DPC is short for Direct Primary Care, and it just might save your life.
A fast-growing movement of doctors is choosing a “new” model for patient care. It is the answer for many people who want good care, lower cost, and a lot less administrative bureaucracy. Many pediatricians, family-medicine doctors, and internists have begun practice something called “Direct Primary Care” or DPC.
What is this new model – Direct Primary Care?
Well, when you look closely, it turns out to be a whole lot like old fashioned doctor-patient relationships. If you are old enough or lucky enough, you might recall a time when your doctor was more concerned with patients than insurance records and billing procedures. The doctor knew his or her patients, cared about them and for them, and provided personal healthcare. The costs were not driven by insurance. They were not inflated by the incredible overhead needed to feed the beast, also known as the medical system/insurance complex.
When patients are the source of payments, not insurance companies, doctors are naturally more attentive to patients. Beware, insurance companies now call their clinics DPC. Look for the real thing.
With Direct Primary Care people become members of a doctor’s (or group of doctors) patient group. When they join, patients agree to a subscription. This is typically paid monthly, though some doctors offer other options with weekly, quarterly, and annual payments. Those who become patients and pay their subscription receive all of their basic primary care for the fixed subscription price. Their doctor knows them. Studies show these doctors average more time with their patients than doctors who “work for the insurance company.”
Typical care that is offered by Direct Primary Care doctors includes check-ups, care for most common illnesses, physicals, preventive care, and wellness care. Direct Primary Care usually includes treatment for minor emergencies. Doctors may stitch minor wounds and may set broken bones if they do not require surgery. In other words, you also get care for minor accidents and emergencies that allows you to avoid a trip to the hospital emergency room. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Who is using this care?
A large number of people have been priced out of healthcare are choosing Direct Primary Care doctors. Rising administrative costs and the voracious appetite of corporate medicine and gargantuan health insurance companies, coupled with utterly ridiculous government regulation and micro-management have driven the cost of treating common ailments to heights unimaginable by your grandma and grandpa. People who can’t afford the government-insurance system still need health care. They are among the first to go with Direct Primary Care.
How did this happen? First, insurance prices are simply too high. They are unrealistic. Add to them the absurd deductibles, thousands of dollars per person, and add to that the patient’s co-pay requirements. What you get is the illusion of insurance and no appreciable health care. This creates the necessity of alternative models, and as the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
There are millions of people who have discovered that the current health insurance model doesn’t work for them. There are millions more who do not want to mess with the current model, even if they can afford it. These folks are also choosing Direct Primary Care.
Who is providing Direct Primary Care?
Believe it or not, there is a growing number of doctors who are as frustrated with the insurance-medical company model. Most good doctors would rather spend their time doing what they trained to do in medical school. They want to take care of patients.
The doctors whose practices involve highly specialized care, the kind usually performed in a hospital, have no choice. They live in the eye of the storm, performing surgeries, cancer treatments, and brain scans while armies of bureaucrats work in the next room or hallway, billing insurance companies, filing reports, maintaining computer systems, and hundreds of other tasks that have very little to do with performing a procedure. To be fair, not all of this is governmental and administrative nonsense. A great deal of it has to do with maintaining a safe and effective facility where the doctors can do their thing. They make sure the doctor has the scalpel or thread or anesthesia medicine that is absolutely necessary. Without them, the hospital would not function.
But, the same model that works for a brain surgeon becomes very inefficient when applied to typical primary care physician’s offices. If the insurance company and the anonymous bureaucrats are not involved in how the patient finds a doctor and pays for medical treatment, the number of people required to run an office drops precipitously. With lower costs of running the office, doctors can earn a good living without charging hospital prices for routine patient care.
BEWARE! The big insurance networks are hard at work creating imitation Direct Primary Care centers that are paid by insurance. Don’t be fooled. Most true Direct Primary Care doctors post the price of care prominently on their website.
Doctors and patients have recognized that too much of a patient’s cost of care is diverted to insurance companies, administrators, computer systems, and other superfluous overhead. When patients pay, the “system” (which is really just the doctor’s office) is leaner and more efficient. Everyone wins.
Want to learn more? Here is a very short list of Direct Primary Care links. We chose them based on geographical area more than anything else. With this list you can find websites that explain Direct Primary Care in more detail. After that, it’s up to you. Investigate a little. Find a Direct Primary Care office or two near you. Make a call. Do what it takes to find out if this is the answer for you?