Frustrated with insurance-based care, increasing numbers of physicians are turning to direct primary care to provide patients across the socioeconomic spectrum simpler, more personalized treatment.
“I see waitresses, maids and fishermen, as well as doctors, lawyers and business tycoons,” says Stanford A. Owen, MD, internist in Gulfport, Mississippi. “They are all treated the same, and the vast majority are not wealthy.”
Dr. Owen charges $125 for a-la-carte visits and a monthly fee of $56, or patients may pay a yearly fee of $672 — a pricing structure he considers far more transparent than insurance. Trade publication Concierge Medicine Today says 65 percent of retainer-based practices charge fees of less than $135 monthly.
Taking it a step further, companies such as Qliance Management Inc. — which manages a network of primary care physicians — are pursuing partnerships with Medicaid managed-care companies to bring Medicaid into the direct primary care model. Approximately 15,000 Medicaid patients are on board with Qliance, National Public Radio (NPR) reported in early 2016.
“Our patients come from all socioeconomic levels,” says Erika Bliss, MD, CEO at Qliance, based in Seattle. “We are able to serve low-income patients mostly through a partnership with a Medicaid managed-care plan in the state, but we also have some low-income individuals who pay out of pocket for our services.”