So what is Direct Primary Care?
Direct Primary Care, or DPC, means that you pay your doctor directly in the form of a monthly membership fee. This means that your doctor works for you, not for your insurance company. This guarantees you more of your doctor’s time and attention and also ensures that your treatment plan is determined by you and your doctor rather than by your insurance company.
So it’s a Concierge practice?
Not exactly. Concierge practices charge monthly or annual fees in addition to billing your insurance, and their fees may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Concierge practices offer similar benefits as those offered by DPC practices, such as extended office visits and after-hours access by phone, text or email. For this reason, DPC has been called “Blue Collar Concierge”.
Will I still need health insurance?
DPC is not insurance, and although you may be able to get all or most of your healthcare needs met by your primary care physician, health insurance is still recommended in case of unexpected medical expenses, such as hospitalization or major surgery.
A high-deductible “catastrophic” insurance plan, especially with a health savings account (HSA), pairs well with DPC and may result in significant cost savings. You may also want to consider alternatives to insurance like heath sharing. With non-profit healthsharing ministries, your tax-deductible donations go directly to those in need. Sedera Health (Sedera.com) is a secular, for-profit medical cost sharing community with a discount for DPC members.
I’m already spending so much on my monthly health insurance premium; why should I pay more for a DPC membership?
Health insurance is not healthcare. Investing in a relationship with a primary care physician is the best way to achieve optimal health and wellness and save money through prevention and early detection. A better question is “Why are you spending so much on your health insurance premium?”
I never get sick; why would I pay for a DPC membership when I only see a doctor once a year?
It’s wonderful that you’re healthy, and the best way to maintain your excellent health is through partnership with a primary care physician. Many healthy people have health concerns which they would like to discuss with a doctor, but they don’t want to wait a month for an appointment, take off work, and pay a co-pay. A typical DPC patient will have 2-3 office visits per year with more frequent communication via text, phone or email.
What if I have an HMO plan, such as Tricare Prime?
HMOs, such as Tricare Prime, require an in-network provider to order referrals and tests, and any DPC practice would be considered out-of-network. Switching to a PPO option, such as Tricare Standard, is the recommended solution.
What if I have Medicare?
Medicare patients are welcome to use their benefits for labs, imaging, medications, and specialty care. Since I don’t bill Medicare, my patients can see me without any co-pays.
What about my kids?
I am currently accepting children between the ages of 5 and 18. Since membership doesn’t include vaccinations, I do not treat children under the age of 5. I am so fortunate to be sharing office space with my boys’ pediatrician, Dianne McNeill, MD, at her practice, Cornerstone Pediatrics. She has a traditional insurance-based practice, but she delivers personalized care with extended visits in a friendly environment. She has completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine. I highly recommend her as a pediatrician.
How can I get started?
Simply click on the link below to start the enrollment process.
Photo credit to Lindsay Mader Photography