Why some doctors and patients love direct primary care
There’s no waiting room at Dr. Linnea Meyer’s tiny primary-care practice in downtown Boston. That’s because there’s rarely a wait to see her. She has only 50 patients to date and often interacts with them by text, phone or email. There’s no office staff because Meyer doesn’t charge for visits or file insurance claims. Patients pay her a monthly fee — $25 to $125, depending on age — which covers all the primary care they need.
“Getting that third-party payer out of the room frees me up to focus on patient care,” says Meyer, who hopes to expand her year-old practice to 200 patients and is relying on savings until then. “This kind of practice is why I went into medicine, and that feels so good.”
Meyer is part of a small but growing cadre of doctors practicing “direct primary care,” which bypasses insurance and charges patients a monthly membership fee that covers everything from office visits to basic lab tests.
“it’s like having a doctor in the family. I texted him on Christmas Eve, and he got back to me in 10 minutes.”
Direct-primary-care practices run the gamut from small, independent offices like Meyer’s to multistate networks, with many variations. Some work with employers and insurers, offering unlimited primary care as part of employee-benefit plans. Boston-based Iora Health works with Medicare Advantage plans in Colorado, Arizona and Washington state. Qliance, with six offices in the Seattle area, is working with Medicaid there and is an option on the state health-insurance exchange.