A growing medical service is starting to be offered in Beatrice, by an experienced local doctor.
A couple of months ago, Dr. Michael Havekost opened Havekost Personal Healthcare, a Direct Primary Care practice, located at 105 S. Ninth St.
According to the Direct Primary Care Coalition, direct primary care is a membership-based, alternative payment plan model where patients, employers or health plans pay a flat monthly fee to access primary care and prevention services. Their website states that there are roughly 1,200 DPC practices in 48 states, providing care to over 300,000 people.
Havekost said he moved to Beatrice in 1991 after completing a residency program in Wichita, Kansas, and worked in a primary care practice for over 17 years before working in the emergency department at Beatrice Community Hospital as the medical director for five years. He also worked as a hospitalist and hospitalist medical director, helped develop a palliative care program called Advanced Illness Management, and helped develop a comprehensive care program for nursing home patients.
Havekost said he started looking into DPC roughly five years ago.
“I’ve been looking at it ever since that time,” Havekost said. “In 2018, I went to a conference where people who did direct primary care came and presented, and it was really quite interesting because the things that I looked for from a practice was relationships with people that were real and personal, where they could share what’s going on in their life and we would work through those things. Having more time with patients, and then helping them through the maze of medicine.”
Two of Havekost’s patients, Sara Grosshans and Jeff Workman, said they were his patients prior to him working in the emergency department, and that they were excited to hear he’d gone back to a private practice.
Grosshans said she’s visited Havekost for routine blood work and exams, and that she enjoys knowing how much her bill is going to be.
“I have great health insurance with my job, but I still have to pay $250-$300 every time I go to see my doctor, until I would meet my deductible prior to coming here,” Grosshans said. “Right now, my fee is $50 a month, and I can come or I can call if I have anything.”
“Because it’s a membership-based thing, the office visits are unlimited, so they can come in whenever they need to,” Havekost said. “But they don’t always have to come in, because we can work things out over the phone, as well. We try to use a telephone or text or email in that process. Telephone if it’s something I need to answer fairly quickly, text if you’ve got an hour, and email if it’s a next business day kind of thing…And if I’m in a room, I can always call people back. We had one yesterday that called, and we did a video conference over the phone, so they didn’t have to go to the ER. So helping them through the maze, trying to avoid ER visits and getting them the right care is our desire and process.”
Workman said the practice has been helpful for him and his wife with the increasing health concerns that come with age, and with recent issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He’s always been real good about educating us past what we went in there for. ‘How is your exercise program? How are you eating? Are you experiencing any of this or that?’ So he’s just a really, really good guy to learn about yourself and take care of yourself…We both got COVID around the first of March, and he coached us through that. He even made a house call one Saturday afternoon, which was very nice,” Workman said.
Havekost said they can treat roughly 90% of the health issues patients have, but that certain things like extensive surgeries would need to be referred out.
“The other thing that we try to do is have less expensive care for lab testing and medications,” Havekost said. “Some people are on generic medications, and we can get those very inexpensively for them. Some people, we can’t beat the price that they have, but many of them we can. And the laboratory testing is a very, very big thing that we are able to help people with care. An example is a blood count or a CBC. In our office, that costs $5. A PSA for a guy looking for screening for prostate cancer is $5. Comprehensive metabolic panel is $5. And most of these, we’ve looked, people brought in bills that they had gotten care other places, and for 13 tests it was in the $1,200 range for those 13 tests. We figured out in our office it would’ve been $85. So just really helping them so they know the price.”
Havekost said the current pricing is $20 a month for people age 18 and younger, $50 a month for people aged 19-44, $75 for people aged 45-64 and $100 for people age 65 and older.
“Our desire is to have between 500-700 patients, eventually,” Havekost said. “In most offices they have between 2,500-3,000 patients. So when somebody calls in, it’s much more difficult to get in to see your doctor that day or the next day. Usually, it's next week, or you can see somebody that you have not met before and get an urgent care visit that type of way.”
For more information, people can call the practice at 402-520-7302, or visit havekostpersonalhealthcare.com/