From time to time I receive a message from Sue O'Connor, President of The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce regarding a new business opening in Manchester. Sue suggested I talk to Anton Brel about the new type of medical laboratory his company has opened in Manchester. I contacted Anton and talked with him at the newest AffordaLab at 534 East Middle Turnpike.
Timothy Becker: Anton, what type of customers are you looking for to utilize AffordaLab's services?
Anton Brel: Our market is people who are uninsured or have high deductible health plans that requires them to pay for most services out of pocket. Our labs handle blood collection and we publish a price list of the most requested blood panels and tests. We quote prices over the phone, and our prices are lower than our competitors. We offer thousand of different types of tests. Up until now there hasn't been a choice of a self-pay laboratory.
Timothy Becker: Why are blood tests so important?
Anton Brel: All physicians require blood tests to be able to diagnose and treat their patient. We require a written requisition from a doctor to draw blood. It doesn't matter that there is a name of another lab at the top of the requisition. The patient can bring that requisition here for their test. It is like a prescription from a doctor, it is the patient's choice to have their prescription filled wherever they choose. The same is true with blood work requisitions.
Timothy Becker: Is an appointment required or can you just walk in?
Anton Brel: We recommend that people call ahead for an appointment, or we can advise them of when the walk-in hours are. We haven't set our schedule for walk-in hours for Manchester yet. We expect to be fully up and running after the first of the year. Our New Britain Branch has walk-in hours Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m.
Timothy Becker: What are the current locations of AffordaLab?
Anton Brel: In addition to Manchester our locations are: 450 South Main St., New Britian, 904 Silas Deanne Hwy., and 74 Park Road, West Hartford.
Timothy Becker: Why did you choose Manchester as your newest locations?
Anton Brel: Manchester has many small business and their employees that could be our customers as well as people from the towns east of river could utilize our convenient location. We have surrounded the Hartford area with our locations. We want to be the community lab, and save people some money.
Timothy Becker: Can you talk about your pricing structure?
Anton Brel: Our prices are 20-70% lower than what a typical lab charges. One of the reasons is that we don't have a billing department because everyone pays upfront. We accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards. Physicians recommend us for their patients that do not have insurance. Currently we do not take any type of insurance. We may need to change that policy in the future.
Timothy Becker: Where is the testing done and how much of the testing is routine blood screens?
Anton Brel: About 80% are routine tests, the other 20% can be one of 10,000 tests. Our main lab is in Wethersfield, and we utilize Clinical laboratory Partners as our reference lab. It allows us to get quick turn around time. Physicians usually have the results from 24 to 48 hours.
Timothy Becker: What else makes your labs different?
Anton Brel: When you call us, your call will always be answered by a person. Our locations are all storefronts with convenient parking. People can be intimidated by medical buildings. Our staff is very friendly and our labs are set up to get you in and out quickly.
Timothy Becker: Anton, what inspired you to risk opening a new type of health care business with so much changing with Obamacare starting this year?
Anton Brel: We decided to go ahead and open the business despite the uncertainty because we saw a desperate need in the Greater Hartford Community. Other states have already emerged with other varieties of affordable healthcare. Affordable walk-in clinics are popping up everywhere. Healthcare growth will only continue to rise, and if people become insured under Obamacare we will have to shift our focus to gain a large volume of patients since people will be more readily appraising their health.