DPC is an innovative yet classic way to provide primary health care. It is a membership-based model, with strong emphasis on easy access to acute, chronic and preventive health care. It is innovative due to the payment model—membership-based rather than dictated by your insurance. It is classic because it hearkens back to the days when your old GP made house calls or chatted with you at the coffee shop. In our current health care environment, your insurance dictates who you see, how much they are willing to pay for your visits, labs and radiologic imaging and determines which medications they are willing to cover. In the DPC model, the emphasis is on what care is right for you, with you and your doctor making that determination.
By joining a DPC practice, you are buying into a unique health care option that will serve you very well. DPC practices tend to have smaller patient populations, making your doctor more accessible. By not having to see you in the office to generate a bill to send to your insurance, you and your doctor can meet in the office, talk on the phone, text or communicate via email or video-conference. This frees you up from leaving your home or work, yet allows you access to care. Your care will still be documented in your health record, but it won’t always require a face to face visit.
You will have access to lower cost medications, labs and possibly imaging. Common generic medications will be provided wholesale through the office, allowing you lower out-of-pocket expense for your medications and bypassing a visit to the pharmacy. For your annual physical, routine labs (CMP, CBC, lipids and a TSH) will be provided at no extra charge, but if you need labs at other times throughout the year (follow up on thyroid, cholesterol or diabetes, for example), those labs will be at wholesale cost to you. In many locations, lower prices for imaging may be able to be negotiated as well.
More than anything, what you will have is time with your doctor. You will have appointments that are not rushed. You will have the time to have your questions answered and researched if the answer isn’t readily known. When you call, your doctor will likely be able to speak with you, rather than transmitting questions and answers through the office staff. Having access to someone who has a vested interest in your health and well-being is priceless.
I do recommend that you continue to have a major medical plan and a health savings account, to protect against financial devastation should you need to go to the ER, be hospitalized or need a surgical procedure. You can continue to see your specialists as well, and insurance can help with those costs. I encourage you to shift the way you think about your health insurance. Rather than expecting it to cover ‘everything’, view it like you do your auto or home insurance. It’s there for the big stuff. The little stuff you and I can manage.
If you have further questions regarding Direct Primary Care, please call the office to set up a free appointment to see if this model of care fits your needs. I look forward to meeting with you!