ZoomCare clinic set to serve Clark County

Nonemergency health care offered at flat fee, no wait

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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ZoomCare, the Portland-based chain of medical clinics, said Monday it has opened its first primary care clinic in Vancouver, at 164th Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard. It's the privately held company's 17th such clinic since it launched six years ago.

As the company's name suggests, the clinics aim to provide health care on demand, a model built on same-day, no-wait appointments.

"It's a totally different model from urgent care where you show up and wait," said Len Bergstein, a spokesman for ZoomCare. "It's not concierge care or any kind of club care. It's open to anybody. You either self-pay or you're covered with your insurance."

However, ZoomCare does not accept Medicaid, which serves certain low-income people, or Medicare, which covers senior citizens and certain disabled people. "It's more a problem with the way the systems are set up than any philosophical reason," Bergstein said of the company's position on the two governmental health programs.

ZoomCare, created in 2006 by Drs. David Sanders and Albert DiPiero, has 13 clinics in Oregon, three in Washington (two in Seattle and the one in Vancouver it announced Monday), and one in Boise, Idaho.

The company has "an aggressive growth plan, and part of it will be to see how the community reacts to it," Bergstein said of ZoomCare's expansion in Vancouver. "I wouldn't be surprised to see additional clinics springing up in Clark County."

By way of ZoomCare.com, the company offers patients what it calls a "live scheduler" so they may reserve same-day, no-wait appointments. "You snatch that opening right there on your computer or on your hand-held phone," Bergstein said, explaining how it works.

Patients of ZoomCare who pay out of pocket are charged a flat price of $109, Bergstein said. The company accepts many health insurance plans, he added, but patients who choose to pay through their insurer will pay a little more than the flat rate.

"Our business model is trying to be completely transparent with the ($109) one-price policy," Bergstein said. "If we could get the insurance to act like cash, we could charge one price all along."

ZoomCare provides a range of primary care services -- including blood tests, x-rays and medical exams -- addressing a variety of illnesses and injuries, and preventive care. Prescription medications are dispensed on site. Medical records, including lab results, are available to patients on the Internet.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com.