by Katherine Restrepo
Director of Health Care Policy, John Locke Foundation
As health insurance is becoming more expensive, some basic health care is curiously becoming more affordable because an increasing number of primary care physicians are breaking away from the status quo. By cutting the cord with insurance companies, doctors can spend more time with their patients in exchange for upfront cash payments.
This simple and effective strategy is known as direct primary care (DPC). It brings back the incredible value of personalized medicine, and it’s a win for both doctors and patients.
Imagine not having to spend over 40 percent of practice revenue on personnel responsible for submitting claims to insurance companies. Opting out of insurance contracts allows solo direct care practices to break even on just four patients per day rather than 32 in today’s typical practice setting. DPC heightens providers’ professional satisfaction because they can escape the corporate environment of the ever-consolidating health care industry and instead hold fast to their autonomy. Calling their own shots under this business model allows for them to actually practice the art of medicine by scheduling longer appointment times with patients if necessary and even committing to house calls.
Because primary care is relatively inexpensive to administer, DPC is an affordable option for the masses. Just ask Dr. Brian Forrest, whose practice is located in Apex, North Carolina. He continues to emphasize this concept after seeing a Medicaid patient and a CEO sitting next to each other in his waiting room. For a monthly payment equivalent to a gym membership, patients are entitled to around-the-clock care. Despite limited data on direct care, existing literature concludes that patients enjoy an improvement in health outcomes while saving on overall health expenditures when compared to those navigating the traditional health insurance system.