In my first post, I detailed why and how I left the broken system of traditional medicine and made the leap to Direct Primary Care. If you missed that post, CLICK HERE to read.
What exactly is Direct Primary Care (DPC)? CLICK HERE to find out. In short, it's a direct relationship where doctors care for patients without the insurance system getting in the way and messing things up. It's going back to an old fashioned way when doctors had time to listen and patients were happy with their care and relationship with their family physician. It's taking away all the things that make medicine maddening (paperwork and alphabet soup like PQRS, MACRA, MU, HITECH, etc) and keeping all the best parts like taking care of patients. It's a new practice model, an alternative payment model. It's simply patients paying for a professional service much like they would pay a lawyer (only MUCH less expensive)!
One of the most common questions that I am asked is "Hey, I know what you're doing. You're doing concierge, medicine, right?" While it is true that what we are doing has some similarities to concierge medicine, it is an entirely different model.
Concierge medicine has been around since the late 1990s but is gaining popularity as the system increasingly fails. The basic offering of concierge medicine is that doctors will, for an additional fee, spend more time with you, be more available for your calls, and see you more promptly in the office. In exchange for this access, you will pay an annual fee, usually around $2000-3000 or more. Generally this is paid up front, annually, and it offers a free "executive physical" once a year. This "executive physical" typically includes labs, EKG, screening and physical, much like a regular physical would. So in terms of value, it does not often bring enough value to justify the high price tag of concierge care for the year. Additionally, when you go to your concierge doctor, you will pay your regular insurance co-pay and they will bill your insurance as usual. This means that if you have a high deductible plan that you will pay the co-pay at the time of the visit but your bill will be processed through your insurance which will turn around and bill you the rest of the visit several months later. A single visit can easily cost you hundreds of dollars with a high deductible plan, using your insurance. In some ways, concierge medicine is "double dipping" by charging the patient an access fee, then charging a co-pay and charging the insurance company for reimbursement. According to THIS ARTICLE, the average concierge practice charges $183 monthly in addition to the above charges.
What if you could get all the hands-on attention of concierge medicine at half the cost?? You can! It's called Direct Primary Care!
Direct Primary Care
Direct Primary Care offers exactly the same type of personal, relationship-focused medicine with small panel sizes and patients that are more than just numbers. DPC offers same day and next day appointments and on call access to your doctor via phone or text. Because we're not trying to get your co-pay, much of what we do can be done over the phone. When it can't be accomplished over the phone or text, we can see patients same day or next day just like concierge medicine can. DPC docs are on call 24/7 like the expensive docs are and patients will get the same "royal treatment" without the royal price tag.
DPC is like "concierge for everyone." It's an affordable cost option which delivers the same or better benefits. Direct Primary Care provides all the same benefits of concierge medicine (the on-call doctor, personalized care, same day/next day access) for about half the price. And because there are no co-pays and DPC offers additional discounts on labs, imaging and medications, the savings are even more tremendous! Getting medications at wholesale cost is a HUGE additional benefit of DPC. Not to mention that in concierge medicine, the practices are limited with what discounts they can offer patients because they are still involved in third party contracts. Under insurance rules, practices can not offer lower rates or they will be committing insurance fraud. DPC's lack of any insurance contracts means that we are able to drive prices down by offering patients the lowest cost option for imaging and labs, even when their insurance might charge 75-90% more for the same test!
To sum up:
DPC has all the perks of concierge medicine at half the cost. See the chart below for some basic breakdown of differences. Now that you are armed with the facts, you decide which model you want to join or practice!
Feel free to use this image download, please simply credit Rekindle Family Medicine.