In the late ‘90s, when national healthcare reform was still but a glint in the eye of Illinois state legislator Barack Obama, primary care physician Garrison Bliss was experimenting with his own brand of healthcare reform in Seattle.
Earlier in his career, Bliss had co-founded a practice that had sold to an HMO, which expected its doctors to see so many patients that neither Bliss nor his partners were spending enough time with the individuals they treated, or enjoying their work. Two of those partners left the practice to form MD2, a “concierge” medical practice that eschews health insurance and instead treats wealthy individuals who pay roughly $1,200 per month to receive personalized medical attention at their homes and offices (and private jets).
Bliss didn’t believe in medicine for the rich versus everyone else, but he recognized the general idea’s merit. When the HMO contract expired in 1997, Bliss converted the partners’ old firm, Seattle Medical Associates, into a primary care practice whose patients paid it $65 a month for checkups, vaccinations, as well as care for chronic illnesses and minor fractures and cuts.