The Importance of Access
When I turned 26 and was thrown overboard by my parents’ insurance company, I had to fend for myself in the dark waters of the healthcare marketplace. The enrollment deadline circled me like a starved shark (my birthday inconveniently falls at the end of the year); the overwhelming number of plans and prices came at me wavelike. Exhausted, I finally climbed aboard a plan that I assumed would be my life raft, my vessel to safety. I quickly learned that I was wrong and spent the following year trying to find an in-network provider who could see me before the next enrollment period opened.
My experience, though slightly hyperbolic for the purpose of narrative, is not unique. This is an everyday struggle for so many- more so for those who don’t have youth or health on their side. Between the tight parameters of health insurance coverage (which 28 million people did not have during 2020 according to a census survey conducted by the U.S. government) and the effort and saint-like patience required to schedule an appointment or talk to a doctor, it’s a wonder we don’t give up and just jump back in the water. But my faith in the medical establishment was restored after a conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Story, a family practice physician, who understands the faults in the system and is giving her patients something just as good as quality care – access.
Dr. Story recently assumed the concierge medical practice of Dr. James Bohnsack, a tenured primary care physician who started his practice over 40 years ago, making it the only independent and female-owned concierge practice in Fort Worth. But what is concierge medicine, or membership medicine, and how does it differ from regular medicine? Well, it’s sort of like a Netflix subscription. Patients pay a monthly or annual fee, which is calculated based on factors such as age, etc., and have unlimited access to appointments and care. Dr. Story refers to this non-insurance-based approach as “direct primary care”, direct meaning without the barrier of insurance. She explains that since she does not perform invasive surgeries or other high-cost procedures that require insurance to cover, a patient’s flat fee covers everything. (Though not required, Dr. Story does feel insurance is important to have as her referral providers, laboratories, imaging centers and the like, accept insurance which helps alleviate out of pocket costs.) Additionally, insurance and other bureaucracies demand a typical primary care practice to see a high volume of patients in order to meet overhead, putting a time clock to every visit, sometimes as little as 10 minutes.
“This is different for patients because they can spend as much time as they want with me. What they’re paying for is access to me.”
And its access that isn’t limited to normal business hours. She is available to her patients at night and on the weekends.
“I’ve been known to come in over the weekend or after hours to sew up lacerations or to help with things that might go to the urgent care. One of my goals is to keep people out of urgent cares, out of the ER and out of hospitals, which I’m pretty effective at doing because of the broad training I received.”
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and medical degree from Texas A&M, Dr. Story completed her residency in family medicine at JPS Health Network, one of the best programs in the country. By happenstance she found herself in the city she has always been drawn to, but Dr. Story choose to stay in Fort Worth because of the community. And it’s the community she feels called to care for.
“This practice is my life. I have plans on taking care of this group of people until I retire, long from now.”
Dr. Story has also expanded her practice to provide aesthetic services such as Botox, Juvéderm, and other treatments that address various needs. Patients interested in discussing concierge membership and their personal medical care with Dr. Story can contact her staff to schedule a free consultation.
For more information, click here or call 817-346-4000.
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5, and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her husband, talking about her cat.