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Insurance with HELPcare Clinic saves Austin business more than 20% on health care coverage – Post Bulletin

Insurance with HELPcare Clinic saves Austin business more than 20% on health care coverage – Post Bulletin

AUSTIN, Minn. — A novel collaboration between a local membership medical provider —

HELPcare Clinic

— and an Iowa insurance firm resulted in a used car dealership saving money and offering more accessible health care to their employees.

HELPcare Clinic, which launched in Austin in 2022 followed by

opening a Rochester office,

offers monthly memberships for individuals, couples or families that cover unlimited appointments with no per-appointment charges.

Dr. David Strobel and retired Mayo Clinic communications executive

Lee Aase

founded HELPcare Clinic.

Membership includes more than 80 common blood tests and two generic prescriptions with no co-pays. The clinic provides a broad array of basic medical services ranging from stitches to electrocardiograms to healthy lifestyle coaching.

The number of members has grown to 783 members with more joining every month, according to Aase. Memberships range from $149 a month for an individual to $249 a month for a couple and $349 a month for a family.

“We’ve been pleased with the level of growth that we’ve had,” Aase said. “Running a clinic is a new experience. We’re learning a lot. It’s been really a stimulating and encouraging experience.”

A partnership with NorthRisk Partners, a firm that operates in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, has added a new insurance policy option with HELPcare Clinic members included. The goal is to offer a new option for businesses and individuals who might be avoiding going to the doctor due to cost.

“More and more people are, what we like to call, ‘functionally uninsured.’ They have insurance, but their deductibles are so high that they’re scared to use their policies,” said Colton Storla of NorthRisk Partners. “It’s not like car insurance or homeowners insurance. It’s getting to the point where people can’t afford to have insurance and they can’t afford not to have it.”

Storla had worked with a similar primary care operation in Iowa, which brought him to Aase’s attention. They created a policy to cover all serious medical issues with the benefit of having access to most primary care services with a co-pay or worrying about a deductible.

“Finding a consultant at North Risk Partners who could use HELPcare Clinic membership as akey ingredient in a complete employer health insurance plan was a game-changer. We call it ‘Health Insurance with HELPcare,” said Aase.

They pitched the new plan recently to some Austin businesses and Medgaarden’s Southwest Sales was the first to sign up to offer the plan to their employees.

“As a family business, we’ve always felt it was important to take care of our employees, and providing health insurance has been part of that,” stated co-owner Spencer Medgaarden in an announcement of the new plan. “But the costs go up every year, and in this year’s renewal we were looking at a 9.4% increase with a $300 increase to the deductible.”

Medgaarden had been hearing his customer, Dr. Strobel, talk about the HELPcare Clinic. While he liked the concept, Medgaarden was clear that he couldn’t pay for memberships for his employees on top of what the current insurance plan cost.

“We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we could provide this extra benefit while reducing overall costs for the business and lowering barriers to health care for our employees,” he said.

Instead of an increase, the NorthRisk policy paired with a HELPcare Clinic membership ended up saving Medgaarden’s Southwest Sales more than 20% over its previous employee insurance program.

Under the policy, Medgaarden’s employees have in-network access to Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center staff and services. They also can use the HELPcare Clinic primary care services in Austin and Rochester as much as they need to without any additional costs.

Of Medgaarden’s 21 employees, 10 have signed up for the Health Insurance with HELPcare plan.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, “Heard Around Rochester,” in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. The opinions of my employer do not necessarily reflect my opinions. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to [email protected] or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.