Anyone remember Marcus Welby, MD? Think about your most recent visit to your health care provider. Does visiting your doctor seem more like a factory production line than the type of relationship that Dr. Welby had with his patients? Well, Dr. Welby is making a comeback. And this time he also has an iPhone, he has given you his direct number and he invites you to call and text him 24/7. This is not make-believe; it’s happening all over America today.
It’s called Direct Primary Care (DPC) and it completely bypasses today’s traditional fee-for-service health insurance model. With DPC, consumers pay a recurring fixed monthly fee directly to the doctor for basic medical services. The monthly amount can vary from $39 to $150 for adults depending on the doctor, the area and sometimes your age (most charge less for kids and some have family pricing). There are no deductibles and usually no co-pays.
The “direct” in DPC means getting rid of the middleman—insurance. Decades ago, health care was between a patient and a doctor with no third party. In today’s society, insurance acts as a third party. Often there is also a fourth party: how often do you talk to a medical assistant instead of your doctor when you call for consultation? There is even a fifth party—government, which tells the insurance companies (and the doctors!) what they can and cannot do. That’s a lot of layers. Our current health care system is a virtual machine of third-party payers, pre-approvals, government regulations, networks, and reimbursements. DPC restores the heart of the physician-patient relationship, without involvement of the government or insurance companies.