A Booster Shot For Health Care


piggyThe new health care reform law requires employers with more
than 50 employees to provide coverage by 2014. Passage of reform may prove to
be serendipitous for Seattle-based Qliance, which is targeting companies
looking for lower-cost health care options for their workforce.

Qliance Medical Group operates its own clinics and charges patients a
monthly fee, from $44 to $129 for primary care, depending on the patient’s age
and the level of service. This coverage includes checkups and basic diagnostic
services like X-rays and blood tests. If extra services are needed, Qliance
passes the bill on to the patient without tacking on its own fee. Qliance’s
model is designed to work in conjunction with a separate policy for
catastrophic coverage.

CEO Norman Wu says that for the 80 employers signed on with
Qliance, savings of 25 percent over traditional insurance plans isn’t outside
the norm. “Companies with less than 250 employees regularly save 10 percent,
while other companies can sometimes save as much as 30 or 40 percent.”

Evie Carr, the human resources manager for Seattle’s Mighty
O Donuts, was shopping for employee health care and found traditional insurance
too expensive for Mighty O’s staff of 20. Qliance cost around $60 for each
employee, while traditional insurance was closer to $110.

Qliance’s care doesn’t suffer because of the lower cost,
Carr says. “When I had insurance at other jobs, I remember waiting in a room
almost an hour, and the doctor spent 10 minutes with me. I usually spend 45
minutes with my doctor at Qliance.”

Michael Storbel, the executive administrator for Becker
Trucking in Kent, switched the company to a Qliance plan in January after
finding out that premiums would increase 9 percent under the old plan. The
company has since cut its health care costs by 11 percent.

Qliance has also been targeting unions. Large unions like
United Food and Commercial Workers are helping bring Qliance’s services to
other states in order to provide less expensive care for all of the union’s

A recent $6 million round of venture funding came from Bezos
Expedition, MSD Capital and comedian Drew Carey, in addition to previous
investors. The majority of this money is going toward building a better
software platform for Qliance’s physicians. The current platform is run with
insurance companies in mind, and Qliance hopes to sell its platform to clinics
with similar business models once it is fully developed.

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