Automobile

Car dealership employees can see the doctor — at work

After a 35 percent jump in health care costs from 2019 to 2020, Lakeland turned to its employee benefits adviser to find a different path. It worked with Health Rosetta, a group of consultants who advocate for self-funded insurance plans, to set up the program.

Costs are based on Medicare and negotiated upfront. Those insured through the plan can use a “nurse navigator” tool to find an in-network provider if they don’t choose the on-site doctor.

Employees now carry insurance cards bearing Lakeland’s logo. If they select the on-site doctor as part of the direct primary care program, they receive free durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies, and they have no deductibles or copays.

Lakeland, which sold about 5,200 new and used vehicles last year, says about 60 percent of the employees insured through the dealership are enrolled in the direct primary care program.

Dr. Christopher Salud, known as Lakeland’s “dealership doctor,” told ABC Action News in Tampa, Fla., that he enjoys the format because he gets to focus on fewer patients.

“It gets back to practicing medicine the way you envisioned it when you became a doctor,” he said. “It’s getting to know people, spending time with them and really helping them versus coming in and seeing patient after patient and not being able to spend time with them.”

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