CAPITAL HILL: ‘Is direct primary care an answer to the stalemate on Capitol Hill?’

Is direct primary care an answer to the stalemate on Capitol Hill?

Let’s figure out what this means for the patient.

By Jessica Socheski | Posted: October 8, 2013

directprimarycare.2jpgAs Republicans and Democrats argue over government spending on the Affordable Care Act, a growing number of proponents of direct primary care wonder if they might have discovered part of the solution.

Roughly 4,000 doctors in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine, have switched from working “for” insurance companies to working “with” them through this oldie and possibly goodie style of health care. But many Americans are still wondering what direct primary care really is and how it works.

Cash only doctors

Direct primary care, also referred to as concierge medicine, works through cash up front payment just like any other service. In part, it is a return to the days when the town doctor received payment for work in the form of chickens or cash just like the blacksmith, baker and other tradesmen in town.

Today, direct primary care works a bit differently with patients who pay a flat rate for as much care as they need. For around $50 per month an adult can visit a primary care physician once or once every day.

Proponents of direct primary care at dpcare.org explain that where the traditional insurance model of fee-for-service encourages quantity of care, this model promotes quality of care because the physician is paid the same whether he or she treats thirty patients in a day or just eight.

This has allowed direct primary care doctors to reduce their patient lists from upwards of 2,000 to just 300 or 400. As a result, patients receiving MDVIP comprehensive primary care plans can spend 30 minutes or more with their doctor rather than feeling that they are riding a conveyer belt through the office, past the doctor and out the door.

Why it’s good for patients

One of the obvious benefits of direct primary care is that it provides preventative medicine. Whereas in a fee-for-service model, patients must make the tough decision between going to the doctor and saving their money, direct primary care encourages patients to take advantage of a doctor who is available for anything they may need.

This access to better and more regular care can “improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs,” reports the American Academy of Family Physicians. Patients are more likely to have things checked out and receive regular screenings which helps prevent advanced diseases in the long run.

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