Lone Tree’s Mint Health Clinics hope to change the way we think about Health Care. In a year when our health is at the front of most of our minds and headlines, Dr. Amy Merritt and business director Shawn Stephens offer their perspective on how to deliver health care in a more efficient and effective way.
What sets you apart from other medical practices?
While we offer the same comprehensive medical services you’ll find at other primary care clinics, we use a membership-based model, or Direct Primary Care (DPC). We do not accept or require insurance. By removing insurance from the equation, we help families and businesses save money by including all primary care needs for one low-cost membership plan.
There are never any copays or deductibles. Our providers see six to eight patients a day, whereas providers in a traditional setting have 20 - 30 patient visits per day with an average appointment time of 12 minutes. Our typical appointment time is 50 minutes.
We also provide concierge-level coordination of care with specialists and wellness providers.
How are you changing the way people think about health care coverage?
The membership-based model is a paradigm shift in how people think about how care is delivered. Until about the 1940s, most people paid their healthcare providers directly for primary care. People had a truly personal relationship with their physicians.
Starting in the 1940s, health insurance outpaced cash payments as the primary revenue source for medical clinics. This change led to the cumbersome fee-for-service healthcare model we see today, which creates many barriers to receiving optimal care. Since insurance has been part of primary care since almost all of us have been alive, we think it’s “just the way it is.”
The second paradigm shift is our focus on prevention. Most people maintain their cars and houses and even bicycles to prevent future issues from occurring. Our current healthcare system is designed to treat symptoms after illness, not to prevent illness in the first place. This thinking is backward. Many people think they’re healthy because they never get sick. However, when they get blood tests or other lab work, they find they are pre-diabetic, their cholesterol is high, their thyroid is not functioning, etc. If we can work on prevention instead of treatment, we’ll improve outcomes, and drive down costs.
Who are your services best geared for?
In almost all cases, we can save people money while providing them vastly improved, unlimited care.
Dr. Merritt is board certified in pediatrics, so we care for the whole family. We are a great option for younger people who can’t afford traditional health insurance and for those with chronic illnesses because we have the time to get to the root of the problem and help reverse many chronic conditions. Small businesses also see cost savings along with improved health for employees.
What are some ways to stay healthy this winter, given the combo of Covid-19 and the flu season?
Try to keep your immune system in optimal shape with a few very simple means. Drink plenty of water, get 7-8 hours of quality sleep, exercise 20-30 minutes daily, and take vitamin D with K-7. Don’t forget gratitude is an easy and free immune booster. Finally, the flu vaccine is vital, along with hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing, and quarantining to prevent both the flu and COVID-19.
What else do you want our readers to know?
Dr. Merritt has over 25 years of experience practicing internal medicine, pediatrics, and primary care. Both her undergraduate and medical degrees are from the University of South Dakota, and she completed a residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. Dr. Merritt believes in the importance of the mind/body/spirit connection, and that the healing of each component is paramount to an individual’s health and well-being. She believes staying physically, mentally, and spiritually active are important keys to maintaining one’s health.