TAFP members connect family medicine with decreased health costs

Tags: media, primary care, value, health care costs

TAFP members connect family medicine
with decreased health costs

Decreasing the price tag on health care through preventive medicine has frequented news outlets as one solution to controlling ballooning health care costs. Now the connection between preventive medicine and family physicians’ practices has begun to grace the front pages as well.

In an October Austin American-Statesman article, TAFP member Lynn Stewart, M.D., was featured as one of two full-time physicians working in a health clinic for Travis County employees. Her work, along with other TAFP members Maggie Brown, M.D., and Abilio Muñoz, M.D., has saved the county about $17 million in the past three fiscal years, according to the article.

In early 2005, Travis County threw out the traditional insurance plan and opened a small health clinic that aims to curb costs by offering free checkups to about 6,600 employees, retirees and their families. In addition to the Lavaca Street clinic, the county supports a second full-time clinic and has hours once a week in a third location.

Stewart sees the clinic as positive for patients’ health, the county’s pocketbook and family physicians’ reputations as caregivers. “Family physicians are in an excellent position to encourage life-long health because we treat all ages and can identify health risks over the entire life of patients,” Stewart says. “This is the nice thing about our specialty. We have so much to offer, from vaccines to blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings and diabetes screenings. We’ve had many patients really make a difference in their lives.”