Direct Primary Care is a model of health care that protects both patients and physicians from the negative aspects of the current healthcare environment and health insurance related bureaucracy. Direct primary care means I do not seek insurance companies for reimbursement but rather work with patients on a flat and affordable monthly fee. That is not to say that patients should not carry health insurance or that those with insurance cannot be treated with a direct primary care physician.
Health insurance or some form of catastrophic coverage is meant to protect patients from financial ruin should a major catastrophe like a hospitalization, major surgery, or significant illnesses occur. Unfortunately, health insurance has also contributed to the negative experience many patients feel frustrated about. Patients pay for increasingly more expensive health insurance with higher deductibles, yet it seems patients are experiencing less and less benefit. Large lab fees, hours wasted at the doctor’s office spent away from work and family, and extremely limited time with physicians who are too busy or perhaps do not care listen are all too familiar with too many patients.
As a physician who worked in an insurance-based clinic, I can tell you it is not much better for physicians. We are repeatedly told what to order despite our clinical training, receive dozens of denials a day for medications and treatments, and half of the staff in the clinic are related to insurance related problems. Most of our days are spent learning to be better billers and coders rather than better physicians. I saw the writing on the wall and if I was to continue to enjoy taking care of patients, then I needed to change the model I practiced in. Direct primary care gives me to freedom to remove all the unnecessary barriers that come between patients and myself and provide more personal and more accessible care while offering better value for patients with their hard-earned money.