Direct Primary Care is a Better Way to Consume Healthcare
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Primary care is the most important aspect of the clinical healthcare system. Unfortunately, in a fee-for-service model, there is no incentive to keep people well from a business standpoint. As such, primary care is severely underfunded and undervalued. It is no surprise that so many of us are unwell.
Why do we utilize a healthcare model that is incentivized to keep us unwell? The reason is simple; many companies and individuals are making big money off a chronically ill population. This money has intrenched all of us into a system that is literally sucking the life out of the rest of the economy as well as many of us.
We need to change the way we consume healthcare. Healthcare entities should be rewarded for keeping people well and should not be incentivized to do more unnecessary things, to make more money. The truth is that when healthcare does unnecessary stuff to people, they can be hurt and sometimes even killed. This may sound extreme, but the reality is that healthcare is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.
Wonder Medicine is part of a growing movement that is attempting to slay the healthcare beast.
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a model of primary care that attempts to cut out middlemen like insurance companies and offer patients direct access to their providers at all times. Some of the hallmarks of DPC are:
1. Direct access to providers via appointment, phone, text, video, or email whenever medically necessary.
2. Recurring monthly, quarterly, or annual fixed fees paid by the patient or the patient’s employer. In contrast to concierge medicine, fees are generally affordable ($70-100/month)
3. Medications, labs, and imaging at wholesale costs.
4. Small patient panels so providers have plenty of time to spend with patients
5. Providers that are broadly trained to take care of the vast majority of medical problems.
6. Providers that know how much medications and procedures cost and are thrifty with a dollar.
Theoretically, this model makes a lot of sense. Providers are incentivized to keep patients healthy, so they do not need to utilize the clinic as much. Patients have access to providers at all times, greatly reducing the use of emergency departments and allowing any health problems to be caught early. Additionally, as DPCs are not bound by insurance payers, they can do things that make sense and are good for patients long before the rest of healthcare. A great example is telemedicine. DPCs have been offering this for years and were well prepared for the COVID pandemic as a result.
Theories are one thing. Now hard data exists to back such claims. The consulting actuary group, Millman Inc., released a study based on 10 DPC practices over a 2-year period. Here is what they found:
- 20% reduction in claims cost for employers
- 40% reduction in Emergency Department visits
- 26% reduction in hospital admissions
So compared to a traditional insurance plan, utilizing a DPC model saved companies 20% on annual healthcare spending. Additionally, DPC keeps patients out of the emergency department and out of the hospital. With data like this, it is hard to imagine why any employer would choose traditional healthcare for their workforce. Moreover, patients get an executive level experience when utilizing DPC at a bargain price.
There are so many case studies available, demonstrating ridiculous cost savings and improved outcomes when companies switch to direct primary care. The Millman study contains case studies demonstrating cost savings of over a million dollars a year for some entities.
If you would like to talk about offering DPC to your employees, Wonder Medicine would love to meet with you. Call us today. Occupational physicals included as well with DPC memberships! There is a better way to consume healthcare. We all hate the status quo. Let’s take action against it before we bankrupt the whole country.
Bill Brandenburg, MD
Millman Inc. Direct Primary Care: Evaluating a New Model Of Delivery and Financing. 2020. Available at: https://www.soa.org/globalassets/assets/files/resources/research-report/2020/direct-primary-care-eval-model.pdf