Direct primary care also known as concierge medicine is simply the modern way to have an actual Doctor-patient relationship. One that focuses on the patient and their needs rather than the wants of the insurance company. Direct primary care providers or concierge Doctors cut out the middlemen i.e. the insurance companies, and provide service directly to the patients. Allowing the Doctors to innovate in new and interesting ways.
What do DPC clinics and Providers do?
Direct care physicians and clinics business models are simple, yet in this time of bureaucracy, it is simply revolutionary. The physicians, simply put, do not accept insurance. Patients pay cash, usually in a membership model, and in return, they get access to their Doctors. Dr. Josh Umbehr, the founder of AtlasMD, often uses this analogy:
“The membership model of concierge medicine allows us to keep the cost per person low while maximizing the availability and quality of the services. By eliminating the third-party payer—insurance—when it comes to routine care, we get ourselves back to a model more consistent with the actual, marketplace purpose of insurance and the way it works in every other area where it applies: car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, life insurance. All these things insure primarily catastrophic events. You don’t have car insurance for gasoline, oil changes, tires, etcetera; why have health insurance for family-medicine primary care?”
“I knew that there had to be a better way. So I launched Unorthodoc, a practice that operates without the constraints of insurance, in order to give my patients what they deserve –affordable, relationship-driven primary health care”
Concierge doctors focus on the patient. They cut out the insurance company to provide the primary care the patients wants and deserves. They offer spectacular value to their customers/patients and in return, the doctor receives a loyal customer. This truly is a market-driven solution to the issue of having doctors see 2000 patients a month while only seeing each patient for 3-5 minutes. Instead of the patient being another checkbox to fill, or form to fill, they are an actual human the doctor cares about. The relationship is at the core of direct primary care and that is great for both Doctor and patient.
How DPC can save you money and provide value
I have had two different direct medical care providers in two different states. Both have different variations and offer different products. Both Unorthodoc, who I currently have, and AtlasMD have been stellar in the service that they offer. Kansas is a bit more liberal, not in the political meaning, with how much freedom direct primary care providers have. In North Carolina, it seems a bit more strict and they have a insureance law that they can bludgeon direct primary care phycisian and clinics with.
Several ways concierge primary care providers save the patient money and build value is the amount of things they offer in their membership price. Many offer wholesale or at cost labs, vaccines, and casting for bones. Others offer free DEXA scans, suturing service, xrays and family practice procedures. Many of the DPC clinics also negotiate surgery services and prices, usually below half cost, as another way to save.
If that wasn’t good enough, many offer several ways to contact the doctor. AtlasMD allows you to text, tweet, email, call, video chat, and more. You can send pictures to the doctor about things your worried about, such as moles, and they go directly into your medical record so they can follow it. Another interesting perk for some of the direct primary care clinics is that they will make house calls, or you can see them as many times as you would like. None of these services are universal to all DPC providers but the majority have a majority of these services. This is heavily dependent upon the state in which you live though.
Where can I find a Direct Primary Care Provider
Google is always a way to start your search, however, there is a neat little tool you can use to search for them. You can use this map or this one. They show direct primary care providers and clinics, both hybrid (those that take insurance for some patients but also a DPC component) and pure models.
What Do I think of DPC and my experience.
I have had great experiences with both AtlasMD and Unorthodoc. Both are pure direct primary care providers. I have found that most of the Direct primary care providers are flexible with what they will work with. Some have strict standard in regards to what they take, others care about vaccines, while others are flexible with them. My experience is that being able to reach my doctor when I need, usually through text, it is great.
A few examples that show some of the value I have gotten. My wife needed an anti-inflammatory and my direct primary care provider was able to get her a 90 day supply for $1.07. Another example, I was able to get a full lab panel for 4 dollars, had a DEXA scan done for free, and ask questions of my doctor in an instant. It has been fantastic.
Should you still have insurance
This question comes up a lot when I talk about direct primary care / concierge medicine. The answer is always the same. You should have health insurance or a health sharing program. The DPC model covers the majority of what you will need, however, you should have insurance or a sharing program to cover you and your family for catastrophic incidences.
What is the down side
The biggest down side that I have found is this, there are not a lot of specialties that do this or are allowed to adopt this model. In Kansas OBGYN services cannot be done in this method. I would like to see more specialties, dentist, and even others adopt this model. This is seriously the ownly downside we have come across.
Would I recommend this model? Yes, yes I would. If you value having a relationship with your doctor, get fantastic value for the amount you pay, see your doctor for longer than 3 minutes, and be treated like a customer than a checkbox then yes, I would recommend this model. It has been a blessing to us. We first got it wehn I was making $11,000 a year in nursing school and I still have it. It has been a great way to increase the value I get for the dollars I spend on the health of my family.
Dr. Josh Umbehr Lions of liberty Interview
Dr. Josh Umbehr. Interview with Objective Standard
Video of Dr. Josh Umbehr talking about DPC and AtlasMD
Benjamin Rush Institute video on Direct Primary care
I recommend Bob Murphy’s book Primal Prescription