FAQs

Rural Family Direct Care is an optional membership program open to established patients of Dr. Pritchett and Dr. Winkeler. (Medicare/Medicaid patients not eligible).

You can find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below. If you would like more information, please call our membership coordinator, Erica Buss, at 618-268-3330.


Membership Medicine and You 

Why Rural Family Direct Care?

Your time is valued and honored. With dedicated staff, we anticipate greeting you personally and promptly, with little to no wait times to see us. We will take the time to address your health concerns and questions; your office visits will never feel rushed.

We will have more time to develop relationships which fosters trust and allows us to have a more proactive role in your health and wellbeing… and be there when you need us.

The aim of Rural Family Direct Care is to create an experience that will not just meet, but exceed, your expectations for health care.  

What is Membership Medicine?

Rural Family Direct Care is available to non-Medicare patients of either Dr. Steve Pritchett or Dr. Brett Winkeler. Membership medicine (sometimes referred to as “Direct Primary Care”) is an exciting and rapidly growing model to provide primary care without the costly interference and constraints of health insurance companies. Instead, members of Rural Family Direct Care pay us directly through a convenient and affordable flat monthly fee. 

This enables us to provide you with extremely convenient, personalized and preventive care when you need it, while being especially respectful of your time and schedule. This focus ensures the strong and satisfying doctor-patient relationship key to helping you achieve optimal health.

In fact, it’s the way we envision the future of medicine!

What does Rural Family Direct Care membership include?

Your membership covers all of the primary care services we offer in our office. This will include an annual comprehensive physical exam that incorporates appropriate screening and diagnostic tests, and focuses on nutrition, fitness and exercise, mental wellness, stress management, and strategies to minimize the negative effects of chronic disease on your health goals. 

The result is a customized wellness plan for achieving and maintaining optimal health and disease prevention.

Rural Family Direct Care includes appropriate follow-up intervals in the office and other forms of communication support through virtual visits and direct connection to your doctor (Dr. Pritchett / Dr. Winkeler) via phone, secure text and/or email. 

We are working hard to create a service where you can reach us when you need us, without having to jump through many hoops! We are available to members to discuss urgent concerns when you have them, even nights and weekends.

You will enjoy greater convenience and peace of mind. You may even find a reduced need for visits to specialists and the emergency department or urgent care. 

I don’t think I need frequent medical attention — will I still benefit from Rural Family Direct Care?

Absolutely. We believe patients would see their doctor more if it were convenient, less expensive, more private, and less hassle. 

As a member of Rural Family Direct Care, we make it easy for our patients to communicate with us and visit us in the office.  We have more time to listen carefully to you to understand how your life, work and family situations may be affecting your health — physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Besides acute care and managing illness, our focus is on adopting healthy lifestyle habits. We want to identify and prevent disease and other risk factors, concentrating our efforts on your lifetime health and wellness. 

Having extended time with members helps us identify risk factors and health issues before they cause disease, saving you money, time, suffering and higher costs in the long run. The membership model allows us the time to deliver this type of comprehensive and detailed care.  

Who does this membership plan work best for?

Rural Family Direct Care works especially well if you:

  • Desire easy and direct communication with your doctor
  • Are too busy to spend time waiting in a doctor’s office to be seen
  • Want a doctor to address the underlying cause of illness, not just treat the symptoms
  • Want to take part in improving your health and staying well
  • Have high-deductible health plans, a healthcare cost-sharing plan, or no insurance. 

This model also works very well for small businesses seeking to provide their employees with affordable health care and improved wellbeing, while simultaneously reducing everyone’s healthcare spending. Ask us for details.


Appointments, Referrals and Care

What happens if I’m admitted to the emergency room or hospital?

This can be a stressful and often confusing experience for patients and their families.  

You will be cared for by a hospitalist team. We are happy to communicate with them, review your plan of care, answer questions, and make recommendations as needed.  As your health care advocate, we can communicate directly with you and your loved ones, and help you navigate the health care system.

Do you make home visits? 

Yes. For an additional fee we offer home visits in medically appropriate situations, and on a case-by-case basis.

What if I need specialty care?

As your primary care physicians, our comprehensive training allows us to handle much of your healthcare needs. If you need to see a specialist, we will help you find the right care at the right time. When making referrals, we will make sure your specialist has all relevant information prior to your appointment.

After your specialist visit, we will follow up to discuss any of your questions or concerns, and arrange additional testing if needed.

What if I need urgent care?

If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately. 

A family member or caregiver can call us so we can be in contact with the emergency room as appropriate.

For urgent problems that are not life threatening, you can contact us when you need to. Often, we can diagnose and treat your need without a visit to the ER and urgent care. In fact, membership medicine has been shown to result in fewer ER and urgent care visits for members because we can discuss your medical needs when you need to. And you know you can see us the same or next day!

What if I need medical attention while I’m away from home?

You can speak with us wherever you are, and we will help with any medical conditions that can be handled by “virtual visit.” If you have a condition that requires in-person evaluation and treatment, we will direct you to appropriate nearby care, and coordinate follow-up when you return home.

Our college program allows you to easily contact us by cell, text, email or video. We can also communicate directly with your student health clinic if needed, and may help you avoid a visit to the clinic altogether. You will have a trusted doctor who knows you well and can coordinate your care while you are away from home.

What if my doctor is on vacation?

As a member of Rural Family Direct Care, you are never alone. Even when out of town, we will often still be available by phone for urgent needs. You will be notified by email before any vacations. If your doctor is not available even by phone, there will always be one of us available to assist, either over the phone or in the office.


How insurance works with Rural Family Direct Care

Do you bill insurance plans?

The membership model allows us to be unencumbered by the constraints and limited reimbursement from insurance plans so that we may better serve and care for members of Rural Family Direct Care. Therefore, we will not bill your insurance plan. The membership fee allows us to work for our patients, not the insurance company! 

You will receive completely unbiased medical evaluation, recommendations and treatment. There will be nocharge for office visits or co-pays. You only pay the membership fee. 

Can you see me if I have Medicare?

Rural Family Direct Care is not available for Medicare/Medicaid-eligible patients at this time.

Do I still need health insurance?

Yes, you do. Rural Family Direct Care does not take the place of general health insurance coverage. However, by providing you with better, more connected primary care, your plan utilization can often be reduced.

If you have a high deductible health plan, participate in a medical cost-sharing program, or you have no insurance, Rural Family Direct Care can be a good fit for you and in addition, save you money. Ask us and we will explain how. 


How to join

How much is the membership fee? 

Please visit our pricing section for details. We have discounts for couples and families, and payments will be made monthly by debit or credit card. 

Do you offer gift memberships?

Yes!  Family members or friends may want to provide the gift of membership. It’s a great way to provide support, offer them peace of mind, and ensure personalized attention for the well-being of your loved one.

Can joining Rural Family Direct Care actually save me money?

We expect many patients will save money with Rural Family Direct Care. We can better manage the risks of the majority of your health issues and concerns because of our more personal and connected care model.

Studies show that membership medicine can lead to:

  • Less dependency on medications 
  • Fewer specialty referrals
  • Fewer emergency and hospital visits
  • Savings on labs and imaging
  • Less need for expensive test ordering

Note: For those with high deductible insurance plans, many people find they can lower their out-of-pocket cost of their total medical care by combining a high deductible health plan with a program like Rural Family Direct Care. Doing so makes joining Rural Family Direct Care quite beneficial. Our type of practice is also a good fit for those who have no insurance or use a medical cost-sharing program.

You won’t have any hidden costs or bills that come to you after-the-fact from the office or insurance company. 

Our on-site lab services will be provided at no cost to you. Extended lab work is not included in your monthly membership but we have negotiated deep discounts with local labs and radiology providers for our patients who choose to pay cash for these services.

Is there a limit to how many patients can join Rural Family Direct Care?

Yes. One of the most important aspects of personalized medicine is limiting the number of members to be able to devote more time and energy to each patient. Because we will continue to see non-member patients in our practice too, we will only be able to accept a small number into the membership side of our practice. We will be filling these slots on a first-come, first-served basis. Once we have reached our ideal number, we will establish a waiting list.

What if I decide to cancel my membership? 

You may cancel your membership after three months, with thirty days’ notice. 

Can we meet before joining?

Sure! If you are not currently a patient of our practice, you may arrange a complimentary non-medical “introductory visit” with Dr. Pritchett or Dr. Winkeler.

Call, email, or visit our Contact page.

HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER?

Please see our Join Us page for more information.

Please remember that space is limited and we accept members on a first-come, first-served basis. Once we fill all available slots, we will add your name to our waiting list, so we encourage you to act quickly.

I am ready to join.