It might sound strange to go to a doctor’s website and see a list of services and prices just like a restaurant menu. But with the growth of “concierge medicine,” this is essentially beginning to happen. More and more doctors have become frustrated and fed up with the bureaucratic process of dealing with insurance providers and the high administrative costs of hiring a billing department. In response many primary care physicians are switching to a cash-upfront system.
1. It’s Called Direct Primary Care
Concierge medicine, or direct primary care, works when a patient pays a monthly fee and then receives unlimited access to the doctor’s services. This form of comprehensive primary care works because it cuts out the middle man of the insurance provider. Instead, the doctor deals directly with the lab company and the patient.
With negotiations taking place outside the office, the physician saves money on administrative fees and can focus on a few patients for greater amounts of time. A Las Vegas surgeon, Kevin Petersen stopped taking insurance because he says, “The insurance industry took over my practice.” Essentially, they “were telling me what procedures I could do, who I could treat—I basically became their employee.” After dropping the insurance companies, Petersen says that “My practice at this point is the best it’s been in my 26-year career.”
2. You’ll Actually See Your Doctor
Due to the shortage of doctors and the higher costs of insurance and administration, many family physicians spend an average of only 15 minutes with each patient. And according to CNN Money, many doctors have patient lists that run anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 names long.
But for doctors like Petersen and Kansas based Doug Nunamker, concierge medicine allows them to consistently see only 400 to 600 patients. Nunamaker finds that his quality of life has improved along with his practice, and he remains “happy with is annual salary of around $200,000.”
The advantage in a direct primary care membership is extended to both doctors and patients. With a personal physician, patients can expect to see their doctor as many times as they need to, even daily, for the same cost. And when they do take a trip to the doctor’s office, they will receive anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes with their physician based on a three year analysis of this care system posted by PR Web.
3. Better Care
In addition to actually seeing your doctor which tremendously increases quality of care on its own, you will also be paying less for services such as tests and lab work. Nunamaker finds that a test which would normally cost $90 if the lab billed the insurance company costs him only $3. He is able to provide his patients with MRIs for $400 rather than the usual $2,000 or even more.
Direct primary care may not cover hospital stays and other extreme circumstances. A simple plan with a high-deductable can help to cover emergency situations. But for the basic relationship of primary care doctor to patient, the direct primary care model seems to provide quality healthcare with a superior experience.
Image from jsnowmedical.com