While Direct Primary Care (DPC) is not completely brand new, it’s seen a surge of popularity and media attention as of late. This innovative, value-based health care model has the power to transform health care as we know it and make seeing the doctor a piece of cake (errr, a slice of an apple).
We look at some of the definitive ways that the DPC model has turned health care on its head (for the better). Take a look at some of the big ways that DPC can make going to the doctor a much better experience than the traditional, fee-for-service model has been.
Old experience: Making a doctor’s appointment can be stressful. Because doctor’s under the fee-for-service model are so overworked, it can be several weeks or even months before a patient can get in to see their doctor.
DPC experience: With the DPC model, patients can usually get in to see their primary care physician the next day, if not the same day. Those appointments also tend to last longer and have less to no wait times in the office. Most DPC offices also offer telemedicine options, adding convenience to the experience.
Old experience: As a number in a database controlled by insurance companies (who love to raise their rates when you get sick), doctors are pressured to serve as many patients as possible. This means actual time spent with doctors is slim-to-none and even that sparse time is spent with the doctor typing information into a computer rather than addressing patient concerns. Instead, doctors are forced to spend their time on administrative tasks like obtaining prior authorization to treat patients and filing every action into complex insurance schema in order to get reimbursement. It’s such an unpleasant experience that many people avoid going to the doctor altogether, unless they really have to. Even then, many patients will opt to visit an urgent care facility or emergency room rather than schedule time with their primary care doctor.
DPC experience: Under the DPC model, doctors are free to set longer appointments and spend extra time with patients. Many primary care physicians also offer telemedicine options (via text, email, or phone) for medically appropriate situations. This makes treatment more convenient and cuts down on unnecessary face-to-face consultations when telemedicine will do. These options are great for treating simple medical problems or even just conducting a check-in on existing treatment plans. Primary care physicians are incentivized to keep patients healthy, so the focus can be on a creating a holistic health care plan that prevents illness, boosts positive outcomes and keeps an eye on positive long-term health wins.
Old experience: The fee-for-service model means that patients must typically pay a co-pay to see their primary care physician in addition to some of the costs for treatment during the visit, depending on what their insurance company covers. Physicians are reimbursed for their services by the insurance companies, and that reimbursement is dependent upon the number of services they provide. This gets more complex as a patient sees more doctors. Often times, patients must navigate their own healthcare journey among multiple doctors, unaided. Doctors that are operating under the fee-for-service model often lack the technology and are not incentivized to help coordinate patient care across the continuum. This can lead to a frustrating — and expensive — experience for patients.
DPC experience: With the DPC model, patients pay one monthly flat fee (usually somewhere between $50 and $150) to have access to their primary care doctor and a wide array of services. DPC doctors benefit when patients’ health — and health care costs — are kept in check. In the case of referrals to specialists, it’s also in the primary care doctor’s best interest to ensure that patients have the best chance at a good outcome. The healthier you are (and stay), the lower the doctor’s costs. This is important because they are receiving a flat monthly fee for all services, incentivizing the to provide high-quality care that works. Patients have the benefit of not being surprised by bills or hidden costs and knowing that their doctor is in their corner.
Beyond the basics, there is also larger data that DPC, on the whole, can be a cost-saving model. One study showed that DPC led to 20% lower overall health care costs, 14% fewer visits to a specialist, 14% fewer ER visits, and $679 (on average) savings for a patient in a year. While that savings figure is an average, it’s apparent that fewer trips to a specialist or the ER can lead to lower out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Decent created the first comprehensive health care plans with DPC at the center. We include the flat fee for DPC in your monthly premium. That means you get free and open access to your primary care doctor as often as you’d like. Our plans also offer telemedicine options, making it easy for you to coordinate care with your doctor over the phone, text, or email, too.
This high quality, affordable health care extends beyond the primary care doctor’s office as well. Our comprehensive plans offer coordinated options for specialty care at transparent rates. So anytime you run into something that can’t be handled in the primary care setting, you know that you’ll be taken care of without breaking the bank.