Have you heard about Direct Primary Care?
Why should you know about Direct Primary Care?
Direct Primary Care (DPC), is spreading. In Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts signed DPC legislationon March 30, 2016. It’s new, but there are already two DPC practices in the state. Elsewhere, it’s growing faster.
In the private sector: Qliance in Seattle was invested in by Jeff Bezos and Michael Dell. R-Health has partnered with the state of New Jersey. MedLion aims to be in all 50 states in the next few years. Techies have jumped in. The American Academy of Family Physicians has given endorsement.
In the public sector: DHHS Secretary Tom Price has promoted DPC on television and in previous PPACA repeal efforts. Further federal legislative support comes from the Primary Care Enhancement Act of 2017. CMS continues to research the potential for allowing DPC as an Alternative Payment Model under MACRA. State Medicaid programs have launched a successful DPC pilot in Washington and another pilot has been proposed in Michigan.
Why should WE care about Direct Primary Care?
The healthcare system is a mess. Rising costs, an aging and unhealthy population, workforce shortage, and increasingly complex regulation. It’s suffocating our economy, our health, and our workforce.
Physicians are struggling and over burdened by too much regulation, paperwork, and reporting, and the physician shortage is worsening. Current projections show a shortage of 61,700 to 94,700 physicians by 2025. Nursing is worse. The projected shortage for nurses is 260,000 by 2025. Demand continues to increase; supply struggles to keep up.
Why should YOU care about Direct Primary Care?
In the U.S., the cost of healthcare for an average family of four was $25,826 in 2016. A crippling, unsustainable amount. Under a DPC plan, this same family of four would pay closer to $3,000 a year, plus lower costs for labs, pharmaceuticals, and tests. This $3,000 will not fully replace the $25,826, but it will significantly reduce this number.
Unhealthy lifestyles coupled with poor preventative care is a bane of our system. In DPC, by having greater access to medical care, patients/providers can focus more on preventative medicine instead of reactive medicine. It’s simple; a physician and a patient work together to do what’s best for the patient. Payment and service are both simple and transparent. This is how a business should be.
Your family has increased access to your physician via text, phone, email, Skype, and in person. Your physician is happier. You, your neighbor, your employer, and your employees all save money. It’s simple.
What is next?
Initial studies have shown DPC leads to drastic cuts in healthcare costs. Cost studies will continue to come. After cost, the next step is to test the effect of DPC on patient health outcomes and care quality. Without proving improved health outcomes, the ability for DPC to scale, procure government action, and become mainstream is limited. In theory, increased access and better preventative care should improve outcomes. Like any theory, this needs to be tested and proven in the real world.