Do Patients Benefit From Direct Primary Care?
Direct primary care (DPC) offers health care memberships which are similar to gym memberships in order to improve health and wellness. In exchange for the monthly fee, member patients have longer visits, unlimited visits, 24 hour access to their primary care doctor, same day appointments, home visits and more. The fees are kept affordable because most of the DPC practices follow a micro-practice model style. Some practices employ only the physician. These physicians are able to accomplish this trimmed down style by opting out of insurance contracts and accompanied claims staff.
“Why pay twice for health care?” is a question brought by patients covered by insurance.
DPC offers patients a different experience than typical office visits covered by your insurance emphasizing your individual health and wellness. DPC practices can often save patients money in copays, medication costs and lab fees. DPC practices typically have unlimited office visits, phone calls, telemedicine visits, emails, and texting as a benefit to member patients. Oftentimes, DPC physicians know their patients well and simple problems can be taken care of with a phone call or telemedicine visit. Patients have more access and little problems are treated quickly without time off work for appointments or illness. Traditional practices are only paid by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance when you are seen in their offices.
Do DPC practices see patients with chronic issues or does DPC cherry pick healthy patients?
Many people in our country have one or more chronic conditions for which they are followed and may take medications. DPC practices are ideal for helping patients monitor and treat chronic illness. Diabetes Mellitus type 2 is one the chronic illnesses on the rise in the U.S. .In 2014 the U. S Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 12% of the adult population has type 2 Diabetes. A new diagnosis at a typical physician’s office consists of a visit scheduled for 15 minutes with a brief discussion of the diagnosis, a recommendation for lifestyle changes, and patient handouts about these subjects. Patient is told to check blood sugar at home and may be referred to diabetes education. Depending on lab findings and patient, the provider may start the patient with newly diagnosed diabetes on a medication. The patient is asked to follow up in 3 months.
Conversely, a DPC practice schedules the patient with a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for a 30-60 minute appointment, coordination of prescriptions for blood sugar testing kits and supplies as well as teaching on glucose testing. During the first few weeks, the patient and physician will be in daily contact via office visit, phone calls, texts, telemedicine, or emails. If new issues arise and the patient wants an office visit, the visit can be accommodated on a same day visit. The DPC patient has paid only his monthly fee for this intensive intervention to improve his health.
Does DPC work with my high deductible plan or if I have no insurance?
Many people today opt for high deductible health insurance plans and these plans expect the patient to cover basic maintenance of their healthcare. DPC works well for people with this type of coverage. This is similar to auto and home insurance. When you change the oil in your car or buy new tires, you do not file an auto insurance claim. Similarly, if your lawn needs to be cut, your home needs painting, or you sink is clogged, you pay for the tools to do the those repairs or pay someone else to perform the service. In some cases, you may purchase a service contract or extended warranty to pay for some repairs. Let DPC be your service contract or extended warranty.
Will I benefit from DPC if I don’t require frequent medical care?
Of course you benefit. DPC physicians get to know their patient are able to individualize care for each patient. Your DPC physician will help keep you healthy with preventive health care or possibly early detection of illness. Your DPC physician is available to answer questions about small issues that another practice would require you take a half day off of work. If you are acutely ill, your DPC physician is available to see you the same day and get you on the road to recovery without going to Urgent Care or the ER. Your DPC physician will work hard to keep you out of the ER. If you save one ER visit, your yearly fee has saved you the equivalent of 1-3 years DPC fees.