After a 35% increase in health care costs from 2019 to 2020, Lakeland turned to its benefits consultant to find a different path. He worked with Health Rosetta, a group of consultants who advocate self-funded insurance plans, to set up the program.

Costs are based on Medicare and negotiated in advance. People insured by the plan can use a “nurse navigator” tool to find a provider in the network if they do not choose the doctor on site.

Employees now carry insurance cards bearing the Lakeland logo. If they select the physician on site under the direct primary care program, they receive durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies free of charge, and they have no deductible or co-payment.

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

Dr. Christopher Salud, known as Lakeland’s “dealer doctor,” told ABC Action News in Tampa, Fla., that he likes the format because it focuses on fewer patients.

“It comes down to practicing medicine the way you envisioned it when you became a doctor,” he said. “It’s about getting to know people, spending time with them and really helping them instead of coming to see patient after patient and not being able to spend time with them.”

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