What is a direct primary care membership?
Direct primary care is a new model of healthcare where patients pay their doctor directly for primary care- there is no middleman including insurance. Most patients, and many doctors have never heard of this model before, but it’s grown over the last few years. In a direct primary care (DPC) practice, patient and doctor work on a health plan together.
Since the patient chooses their doctor and payment is direct, insurance companies or government agencies aren’t involved. Once a patient chooses a doctor, they become a member of the practice and get all the primary care they need.
How does direct primary care work?
DPC practices do not rely on insurance. This allows providers to deliver treatment in ways that insurance-based practices can’t. It’s no secret that the way insurance companies have structured their reimbursement process, it incentivizes practices to see as many patients as possible each day. As a result, most people spend only 5-12 minutes with their primary care doctor per visit.
In a direct primary care practice, the patient and doctor value a relationship that results in quality individual health care. It’s not uncommon for DPC doctors to spend 30-60 minutes with patients during an appointment. This allows the provider and patient to spend the necessary time to build a long-term relationship built on trust. This type of relationship leads to positive health outcomes because patients are comfortable enough with their doctor to bring them any concerns, and doctors can take the time to make sure they understand each individual.
A doctor at a traditional medical practice can have over 2,000 patients. A DPC doctor will typically have 500 – 800 patients. This means with a direct primary care membership, appointments are never rushed, and there is always time to make sure all questions are answered.
Doctors in DPC practices are always in direct contact with their patients and many are available to their patients outside of business hours. They make themselves available through almost all forms of communication – email, text message, video chats and phone calls. Sometimes, DPC doctors can address a patient’s issues over the phone. Insurance-based practices often require an office visit because the insurance companies require it in order for the doctor to be reimbursed.
Without insurance playing the middleman, doctors and patients can address concerns in a way that meets the patient’s medical needs and fits their lifestyle.
Is direct primary care worth it?
The direct primary care movement was started to make healthcare affordable and accessible to everyone. The monthly membership fee is comprehensive and transparent. Membership price varies depending on the individual practice and location, but averages about $75/month. It typically includes all of the primary care you receive from the doctor without any additional fees excluding labs and can be found on the doctor’s website
While lab fees aren’t usually included, most DPC practices partner with labs, pharmacies and imaging centers to offer discounted services without sacrificing quality. Patients can save up to 95% off retail prices.
The transparency of direct primary care allows patients to price shop for a practice that fits their budget and lifestyle. These different price points make it possible for patients with insurance to also save money. The monthly membership fee eliminates co-pays, unnecessary trips to the urgent care or emergency room and lab pricing is often cheaper than the pricing patients are offered with their insurance.
Many doctors chose the DPC model to provide high-quality, accessible, affordable healthcare to everyone, whether they have insurance or not.
How do I enroll in direct primary care?
Signing up to join as a practice is easy! Many DPC practices have online registration or a way to set up an appointment with the doctor. The first visit is critical as the patient and doctor will assess if the relationship is a good fit. If both agree, then the membership will be confirmed and payment options will be discussed.
You can contact any of our member doctors here to have all your questions answered and decide if direct primary care membership is a good fit for you.