Wellness Mart looks nothing like an average doctor’s office.
The white and lime green walls, glossy floors and big screen television make it feel more like a Mac store than a stuffy waiting room. There’s no crowds or sniffles or even a wait.
The man who greets patients, Dr. Richard McCauley, worked in an emergency room for years before developing a new idea for healthcare with his partner, Chris Spieth.
Wellness Mart’s walls are covered with menu boards like one would find at a sandwich shop, clearly spelling out prices for services. The men want consumers to look at health insurance the way they do auto and home insurance—something to purchase for the big disasters.
“You don’t go through your insurance to get oil changes and new tires,” Spieth said. “People should be buying health insurance strictly for the unexpected stuff. There is so much savings there.”
At Wellness Mart, people can get travel vaccines, cholesterol checks, or weight and nutrition consultations. Dr. McCauley can administer STD tests or cancer screens. Physicianapproved vitamins are available, and CPR classes are offered.
All services and products are listed on the menu boards with a flat-rate price. McCauley and Spieth call Wellness Mart the doctor’s office for healthy people.
“Why do sick people and healthy people go to the same place?” Spieth asked. “This is a different way for people to access the same level of care. It’s a smarter way of doing things.”
McCauley said it was five years ago, while working as an ER doctor, that he started to formulate the idea for the mart.
“I became frustrated on the front lines of healthcare,” McCauley said. “I was beginning to feel like I could never fix anything. I wanted to go directly to the public—a retail store. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if healthcare was like car care?”
Thus the idea for straightforward preventive healthcare was born; prices for services would be posted on the walls, and there would be no need for the hassle and markup of using the insurance agency as a middleman.
“It’s a profound improvement for consumers to have a place they can walk in and get honest answers,” McCauley said. “Let’s live in the real world where people have limited resources. Not everybody can afford everything. If people can get the same quality care for less money, let’s start there.”
The men have also compiled binders of information listing cash prices for lab tests, doctor visits, prescriptions and other services at local doctor’s offices. That way, patients can see that purchasing a lowcoverage insurance plan and paying out of pocket for the occasional sore throat is financially beneficial, they said.
“We are giving people the opportunity to experience healthcare in a positive way,” Spieth said. “We want people to ask questions, to learn. Doctor’s offices are not set up to teach. They are set up to diagnose and treat.”
The men think that, conceptually, Wellness Mart could be successful all over the country.
“There is nothing like this in America,” McCauley said. “Our customers love what we do.”
Wellness Mart is at 1610 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.