Men's Breakfast Report, January 2014

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, January 11 with Don McCormick, founder of Tomorrow’s Bread Today. Tomorrow’s Bread Today is a nonprofit organization that organizes medical cooperatives. Don received a degree in history from Saint Thomas University in Houston. He went to work for Allstate selling insurance since they were the only company hiring history majors. He transitioned to working for an actuary, crunching numbers on a Marchant mechanical calculator. He then worked setting up contracts between health providers and insurance companies. When he retired he decided to use his expertise to help those who were excluded from the medical system and set up the nonprofit organization Tomorrow’s Bread Today.

He set up a free clinic in Houston in which Lee Attema was the health provider. Since very little money was available they had to become very efficient. Most doctors’ offices have three or four people working in the office for each doctor, most working to get reimbursement from insurance companies. Don and Lee found that the clinic could get by with only one assistant since they were not all the time filling out forms. They also went to electronic records because the filing system for paper records was too expensive. In order to put the operation on a firm financial footing they did a survey of their clients. They found that most of them would be willing to pay twenty-five dollars per month for the right to see a physician when needed. Don showed a chart of where medical fees go in America. Family doctors received the smallest portion of the total and administration, including insurance companies and internal administration the highest portion. Fees to specialists were also much higher than in other countries. Other countries have much smaller allocations to these areas, which is the reason that America’s health care cost is so much higher than other countries and has much poorer results.

Don’s solution to the runaway medical costs in this country is to form health care cooperatives. Each person pays twenty-five dollars per month. The doctors are paid from this money. A cooperative should have about 3000 members. There are several doctors in the cooperative. A doctor working full time with the cooperative would serve about 1000 patients. The high patient load is possible because of reduced paperwork. There are some specialists that the doctors could refer patients to if necessary. They also contract with imaging centers and hospitals. This is possible because hospitals and imaging centers are highly overpriced. In one case the hospital in Oregon wanted $16,000 to do a study. The cooperative found a center in Texas that would do the study for $600. When the hospital was told that the cooperative would fly the patient to Houston, the hospital matched the price. There is also inexpensive hospitalization insurance available, separate from the primary care plan. 

There are two cooperatives working now; one in Houston and one in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon cooperative has several naturopaths and chiropractors as primary care providers, supposedly because that is what the patients want. The Houston cooperative has medical doctors and nurse practitioners. People from the Freeport area are eligible to join the cooperative. Don says that a cooperative could be organized in the Brazosport area. This would require community organization and effort to get the needed 3000 members. The organizers would get people to agree to join the cooperative and then once the minimum number signed up the patients would switch from their present medical plan, if any, to the cooperative. 

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be February 8th