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What exactly is Qliance?

By Clive Riddle, January 16, 2015

Qliance, recently discussed in Time Magazine as they are quick to tell you, just issued a news release  that their New Primary Care Model Delivers 20 Percent Lower Overall Healthcare Costs, Increases Patient Satisfaction and Delivers Better Care.

Qliance conducted a study "of insurance claims data from 2013 and 2014 for approximately 4,000 Qliance patients covered by employer benefit plans, and compared the cost of their care to that of non-Qliance patients who worked for the same employers. The results revealed a savings of $679,000 per 1,000 Qliance patients on total claims –19.6 percent less than the total claims for non-Qliance patients during the same period."

Here’s data from a table they provided:


Incidents Per 1,000 Qliance patients

Incidents Per 1,000 Non-Qliance patients

ER Visits



Inpatient (days)



Specialist Visits



Advanced Radiology



Primary Care Visits



Impressive enough data, albeit its hard to know how much is apples to apples in the comparison. But the bigger question from examining this, is what is Qliance, what the heck is a Direct Primary Care model, and how is it different from other, more familiar models?

The first question is how exactly does one pronounce Qliance? The website FAQs didn’t have an answer for that question – like “clients” one would assume.

The next question would be, is Qliance a form of health coverage? The answer would be yes and no. Yes – you can contract to receive their medical services for a fee, but no – they are not an insurance plan.  One might think so when first arriving at their website – the navigation menu  refers to Members, Clients, Locations, etc, so one might assume Qliance is an integrated health plan.

But it is not.  As their FAQs will inform you, they are NOT insurance.  Instead they charge a monthly fee to provide primary care, with no fee for service charges.  Here’s what they say:  “We work directly for our patients to provide direct primary care. Your monthly care fee pays for our primary and preventive care services. Qliance does not bill any insurance carrier for our services, and Qliance monthly care fees are not reimbursable by any health insurance company, and may not be applied to any insurance plan deductible. Your insurance plan may be billed by others for services such as emergency, hospital, specialty care, laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging, prescription drugs or other goods and services that are ordered by your Qliance health care provider but are not performed or provided in our offices.”

So with or without health insurance, you can pay Qliance a monthly fee, and receive all the coordinated direct primary care services you want. But you or your health insurance, and not Qliance, will pay for any healthcare services Qliance does not provide. And depending on the type of managed care plan you have. your health insurance won’t pay for outside services ordered or prescribed by your Qliance doctor.

Sounds like a major stumbling block. Except that Qliance also works with self-insured employers to integrate with their health benefits.  Again, quoting from Qliance FAQs:  “We can work with any type of insurance plan. Most employers that incorporate Qliance into their benefits plans save 10% or more, with some employers saving over 40%”

Reading up on all the bells and whistles of Qliance – they seem to be a hybrid of a patient-centered medical home, concierge care, retail/urgent care clinic, with some purchaser-like capabilities. So the question is, in an age where integrated care holds much potential promise – why not keep moving bit by bit down the spectrum towards the purchaser end of the bar?

Perhaps first Qliance will just need to keep moving – to some additional locations. Right now you’ll just find them in the Seattle – Tacoma metro area of Washington.

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