Warwick doctor wins award for simplifying healthcare
What’s the most complicated yet important thing that any American adult has to deal with? Considering the date, you might be thinking taxes. However at any other time of the year, the popular answer would probably be healthcare.
One local doctor is trying to do for healthcare what accountants do for people flustered by taxes, but he’s doing one better on CPAs – he’s offering his useful, informed advice and helping people get enrolled in the right healthcare for their specific situation completely free of charge, to any and all who ask for help.
Dr. Johnny Luo, a 30-year-old graduate of Brown University Medical School, began Doctor’s Choice in 2013 after he saw the gap between the vast number of people who needed advice regarding their healthcare and the few people that were qualified to provide advice on behalf of the best interest of the individual. The work has earned Luo the distinction of being named the 2018 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
“I was in MD training in North Smithfield right around when Obamacare came out, and a lot of patients were confused and clogging up the office with questions about what healthcare plan was right for them,” Luo said. “The secret is that most doctors know nothing about healthcare programs and were not trained in it. My physician colleagues wanted nothing to do with these conversations.”
Healthcare in America is a sprawling, snarling beast of complex language, mitigating circumstances and constantly changing prices and choices. Maybe you get healthcare through your job, maybe you can’t afford that plan or it doesn’t cover a pre-existing condition you suffer from. Maybe that insurance isn’t the best choice for you for your situation. Where do you go? Insurance companies are obviously trying to sell their plans, they aren’t necessarily interested in making sure you have the right plan.
This is where Luo and Doctor’s Choice comes in. The company, described as a “choice model,” isn’t tied to any insurance companies, but it works with over 30 different companies in over 20 different states to figure out what plan makes the most sense for each person’s unique situation. Those who utilize Luo’s service don’t need to pay, as Doctor’s Choice receives funding from the insurance company when they successfully enroll somebody.
“We don’t turn anybody away,” said Luo.
Originally Luo was the only member of the staff – the company actually started as an independent study while he was at Brown – but Luo quickly realized he needed to put his whole focus into the business. In the few years since the inception of Doctor’s Choice the staff has increased to 14 people and Luo estimates the company has already consulted and placed about 3,000 into appropriate healthcare.
“We've been growing steadily ever since,” Luo said. “The big vision is how to make healthcare affordable and understandable. If we're able to help people figure out how to decipher the lingo, then we could help millions of people out there.”
Luo said that people who are wondering what healthcare they should enroll in fall into three main “buckets.” There are people aged 65 and older who qualify for Medicare, people of lower income or those who are unable to work due to a disability or debilitating injury may apply for Medicare or Medicaid. Finally, there are the people who may not qualify for Medicaid but are not able to afford plans offered by their employers.
“If you're a working individual under 65, you’re not disabled and need a plan based on your income, we focus on what plan will be good for you based on your needs,” Luo said. “We focus exclusively on the Medicare side but we also provide guidance for everything else. We try to understand what you can afford on a monthly basis, what are your prescriptions, what would happen in a tragedy...We can help you distill your choices down to one or two major options.”
Luo, a member of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce board of directors, was nominated by the Chamber for the award. He was very appreciative of the recognition and to the Chamber for their nomination, but was clear that there is much work left to accomplish in simplifying healthcare for all.
“They're a force that helps the small businesses of Rhode Island,” he said. “We're really grateful. It's great to be recognized but we also recognize there's a lot more work to do. We'll put our heads down and keep moving forward.”
“I would like to congratulate the Dr. John Luo for being selected as the 2018 Rhode Island Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” said Mark S. Hayward, SBA Rhode Island District Director. “Dr. Luo identified a desperate need in the healthcare field and has worked diligently towards ensuring those in need get the coverage that best suits them; he is a testament to all young entrepreneurs in Rhode Island.”
Doctor’s Choice is located at 30 Quaker Lane in Warwick. You can schedule a consultation by visiting their website at www.doctorschoiceusa.com or calling 404-7373.