Health insurance may be getting more expensive, but basic health care doesn’t have to. As a way to improve the value of their patients’ health care expenses, a growing number of primary care physicians are breaking away from some aspects of the traditional delivery of care, enabling them to spend more time with their patients. Some are even working outside of insurance companies and creating a simple system – delivering high quality, easily accessible medical services in exchange for a monthly fee paid directly to the doctor.
Direct primary care (or concierge medicine) is a simple, yet effective strategy and it brings back a way to personalize the delivery of care. It’s a win-win for both patients and doctors.
For patients, primary care delivered in this way becomes an affordable option. Instead of paying what might be equivalent to multiple car payments, patients could spend what is the equivalent of a monthly gym membership and be entitled to round-the-clock care. Most studies find that patients seeking treatment with their direct primary care or concierge physician spend about 85% less and enjoy an average of 30-45 minutes per visit as opposed to 8-10 minutes in the traditional non-direct care setting.
For doctors, it means not having to negotiate or submit claims to insurance companies, enabling them to spend more quality time with patients during their visit with some even committing to house calls. It allows doctors to escape the corporate environment of the healthcare industry and focus more on their passion of treating patients and getting to know them on a one-on-one basis.
Since the Affordable Care Act requires almost everyone to purchase health insurance, with some exceptions for seniors and those with extenuating circumstances, some may wonder why anybody would want to pay twice for health care (monthly insurance premiums and monthly membership fees). In reality, people are already paying twice for health care because they are responsible for their monthly premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs like co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles.
Direct primary care helps members save on the cost-sharing part. Also because many patients never meet their deductible they could save by switching from a comprehensive health plan to a major-medical plan while their concierge care would cover preventative health services and better manage chronic conditions.
As a senior, with a concierge care model you can still take advantage of Medicare and Medicaid for all other services beyond the specific service provided by the primary care physician.
Direct primary care and concierge medicine are becoming compelling models for value-based medicine, and by eliminating the middleman in most cases can bypass the challenge our healthcare system has become which means more time with the physician you choose.
Watch this video to get an idea of how this system could work for you.