You can find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below. If you would like more information, please call our Membership Coordinator, Terry Scalora at (203) 445-9060.
Membership Medicine and You
How does our practice differ from the typical traditional practice?
You will experience the difference immediately when you visit us at Balance Family Medicine. Our entire office has been designed to create a relaxing and comfortable experience for you, from the reception area to the exam rooms. There is little, if any, waiting time. We will take the time to address your health concerns and questions, and your office visits will never feel rushed.
Because my practice is limited to just a few hundred, not thousands, of patients, I really get to know my patients so I can take a more proactive role in your health and wellness and be there when you need me.
My goal is to provide you with an experience that will not just meet, but exceed, your expectations for a medical office.
What is Membership Medicine?
Membership medicine (sometimes referred to as “Direct Primary Care”) is an exciting and rapidly growing model to provide primary care without the costly interference of health insurance companies. Instead, our patients pay us directly through a convenient and affordable flat monthly fee.
This allows us to keep our practice small and provide you with highly accessible, personalized, and preventive care when you need it. It’s like having your doctor available at the touch of a button. Our focus on ensuring a strong and satisfying doctor-patient relationship is the key to helping you stay healthy.
In fact, it’s the way I’ve always wanted and expected to practice medicine!
What does membership include?
For non-Medicare patients, your membership covers all of the primary care services we offer in our office, as well as acupuncture treatments. In addition to all of these benefits, Osteopathic manipulation is included in the Harmony plan as an extra service.
We also can provide a great amount of care by phone, email and text, including virtual visits when appropriate. We are available to discuss urgent concerns evenings and weekends when needed. We are working hard to create a practice where you can reach us when you need us, without having to jump through many hoops!
You will enjoy greater convenience and peace of mind. You may also find a reduced need for visits to specialists and the emergency department/urgent care.
See the many services you will receive.
Will I still benefit from membership even if I don’t expect to need frequent medical attention?
Absolutely. I believe patients would consult with their doctor more often if it were easier to communicate, more private, and less hassle.
At Balance Family Medicine, we make it easy for my patients to communicate with me and visit me in the office. I listen carefully to you to understand how your life, work and family situations may be affecting your health — physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Besides acute care and managing illness, our focus is on adopting healthy lifestyle habits. We want to identify and prevent disease and other risk factors, concentrating our efforts on your lifetime health and wellness. Together we create a personalized plan to achieve and maintain your optimal health.
Who does this membership plan work best for?
People of all ages benefit from the comprehensive and value-added services we offer at Balance Family Medicine.
It works especially well for:
- Patients desiring easy and direct communication with their doctor.
- Patients who want a doctor to address the underlying cause of illness, not to just treat the symptoms.
- Those who want to take part in improving their health and staying well.
- Patients who want a physician with traditional training but an open mind to non-traditional treatments (examples include health coaching, meditation, acupuncture).
- Those with high insurance premiums, high-deductible health plans or no insurance.
- Self-insured businesses seeking to provide their employees with affordable health care and improved wellbeing, while simultaneously reducing everyone’s healthcare spending.
- Patients who are too busy to spend time waiting in a doctor’s office.
Appointments, Referrals and Care
What happens if I’m admitted to the emergency room or hospital?
This can be a stressful and often confusing experience for patients and their families.
You will be cared for by a hospitalist team. I will communicate with them, review your plan of care, answer questions, and make recommendations as needed. As your health care advocate, I will communicate directly with you and your loved ones, and help you navigate the health care system.
Do you make home visits?
At this time, we do not provide home visits.
What if I need specialty care?
As your primary care physician, my comprehensive training in both family medicine and integrative medicine allows me to handle the majority of your healthcare needs. If you need to see a specialist, we will help you find the right doctor and coordinate your care. When making referrals, we can consult with your specialist prior to your appointment, as needed.
After your specialist visit, we will follow up to discuss any of your questions or concerns, and arrange additional testing and management if needed.
What if I need urgent care?
If you have a life-threatening emergency, you should call 911 or go to the ER immediately. Otherwise, you can contact me when needed.
Often, I can diagnose and treat your need without a visit to the ER. In fact, membership medicine has been shown to result in many fewer ER and urgent care visits because we can discuss your medical needs when you need to. If appropriate, rest assured we can see you the same or next day!
What if I need medical attention or to contact you while I’m away from home?
You can speak with me wherever you are, and I will help with any medical conditions that can be handled by “virtual visit.” If you have a condition that requires in-person evaluation and treatment, I will direct you to appropriate nearby care, and coordinate follow-up when you return home.
Who takes care of me when Dr. Cremin is on vacation?
As a member of Balance Family Medicine, you are never alone. Even when out of town, I will still be available by phone for your urgent needs. You will be notified by email before any vacations. If I am not available, I will always have another trusted physician available to assist you for any urgent matters.
How insurance works in the practice
Do you bill insurance plans?
We have chosen not to. Our practice is unencumbered by the constraints and limited reimbursement from insurance plans so that we may better serve and care for our patients. You will receive completely unbiased medical evaluation, recommendations and treatment. There will be no charge for office visits or co-pays. You only pay the membership fee.
Our model results in significant savings: money, paperwork and time. The membership fee allows us to keep our overhead low and our practice small, and work for our patients, not the insurance company!
Can you see me if I have Medicare?
Absolutely. Current patients or those who enroll in Medicare after they have joined our practice can continue to see me. If you have Medicare, there is no membership fee required. As a provider with Medicare I will bill Medicare on your behalf, as required by law. However, I am considered to be “non-par” with Medicare, and therefore, will collect payment for charges incurred at each visit. Medicare will reimburse you for your out of pocket costs. This approach will help me continue to see my current patients who have Medicare or who age into Medicare Part B plans.
Do I still need health insurance?
Yes, you do. My medical practice is NOT a health insurance program. It is very important to maintain insurance (and/or Medicare) to cover outside testing and specialists, as well as expensive, unusual and unpredictable events such as surgery, emergency care and hospitalization. BUT NOT for everyday preventive primary care! By providing you with extraordinary and connected primary care, your plan use can often be reduced.
The current insurance-based system makes primary care MORE expensive and difficult, and less effective too. Our practice does the opposite.
By charging a set fee, I can spend more time with you and focus on your individual health needs to maintain and improve your health. I want you to see me as often as you need to, because my goal is healthy and happy members!
How to join
How much is the membership fee?
Membership fees are paid monthly and most of your care in our office will be covered without additional co-pays or deductibles.
Please call our membership coordinator, Terry Scalora at (203) 445-9060 for details and to enroll in our practice.
Do you offer gift memberships?
Yes! Family members or friends may want to provide the gift of membership. It’s a great way to provide support, offer them peace of mind, and ensure personalized attention for the well-being of your loved one.
Can joining Balance Family Medicine actually save me money?
We expect many patients will save money at our practice. We can better manage the risks of the majority of your health issues and concerns because of our smaller practice and more connected care model.
Studies show that membership medicine can lead to:
- Less dependency on medications
- Fewer specialty referrals
- Fewer emergency and hospital visits
- Savings on labs and imaging
- Less need for expensive tests and lab-work
Many people find they can lower the cost of their total medical care by combining a high deductible health plan with a membership practice. Doing so makes joining this practice quite beneficial. My type of practice is also a good fit for those who have no insurance.
You won’t have any hidden costs or bills that come to you after-the-fact from the office or insurance company.
We have arranged to provide many of our patients with on-site lab draws at no cost to you. Extended lab work and supplements are not included in your monthly membership and will always be discussed ahead of time if needed in order to find the best option (i.e. via insurance or best cash pay options from each particular lab). We also have negotiated deep discounts with local labs and radiology providers for our patients who choose to pay cash for these services.
Is there a limit to how many patients can join Balance Family Medicine?
Yes. One of the most important aspects of personalized medicine is limiting the practice size to be able to devote more time and energy to each patient. Therefore, once we have reached our ideal practice size, we will establish a waiting list.
What if I decide to leave the practice?
You may cancel your membership any time after the first three months, with thirty days’ prior written notice.
HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER?
Please see our Join Us page for more information, and to sign up for one of our upcoming virtual information sessions.
Please remember that space is limited and we accept members on a first-come, first-served basis. Once we fill all available slots, we will add your name to our waiting list, so we encourage you to act quickly.