Affordable primary care at Lantern Health attracts uninsured

Ben Aiken MD shaking patient's hand at Lantern Health


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — People without health insurance and those with high deductibles are finding affordable health care in Asheville.

Through Lantern Health (formally Avenue Health), a Mission affiliate, patients can pay a monthly fee for primary care that includes lab work.

Self-employed restaurateur Anthony Dorage cannot afford health insurance. But, that is no longer keeping him away from the doctor since Lantern Health opened in Asheville.

“This is a very comfortable environment,” 58-year-old Dorage said. “It’s not rushed.”

“It’s saving me money,” he added.

“What we do is take insurance out completely and replace it more or less a membership model,” explained Dr. Ben Aiken, a family medicine physician. “So, we try to embed everything you would need in primary care in a membership model.”

Here’s the cost:

Patients 0 to 25 pay $50 per month.

Patients 26 to 64 pay $70 a month.

The monthly fee is bank drafted.

“So, you get up to 40 in-person visits with me per year,” Aiken said. “You can access me by text 24/7, video, or true virtual visit.”

“I’ve been here three times, did my first consultation and they spent two hours talking with me about my history, my health, my well-being at the current state,” Dorage said.

Under the model, doctors have a limited number of patients but insist the practice can make money because no staff is needed to file insurance or handle billing.

Providers at Avenu Health say their patients should still have insurance for catastrophic situations, like emergency hospitalization, oncology care, and orthopedic surgery.

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