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What is Direct Primary Care?

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Did you know that you doctor is told by insurance companies how to take care of you? It’s sad but true. Many doctors do not have as much freedom as they would like to choose how to treat you (take many holistic medicine therapies, for instance). What’s worse, doctors are also forced to cram as many patients into their daily schedule as possible so that they can be paid by these same insurance companies. What this boils down to is less time spent with you, (with appointments lasting an average of 15 minutes nationally) while your doctor’s hands are shackled.

Enter Direct Primary Care (DPC). Since arriving on the healthcare scene in the mid-2000s, DPC has grown exponentially in popularity. As health insurance gets increasingly confusing, expensive, and frustrating, new models of care are emerging. DPC is a financial arrangement made directly between a patient and healthcare provider. It cuts the insurance companies out of the process, and so you work directly with your physician, erasing the need for patients and providers alike to file health insurance claims.

Patients have extraordinary access to a physician of their choice, often for as little as $75 per month, and physicians are accountable first and foremost to their patients. Because patients cared for by a DPC physician can typically text or call them at any time, this option may be appealing to a range of people.

So why DPC? Great question!

For starters, you will get to spend more time with your doctor. More time means more in-depth visits for that problem that you never seem to get addressed. DPC practices also typically have fewer patients than those that accept insurance. Doctors are therefore able to get to know each patient as a whole person, creating opportunities for deeper, more personal care. Patients receive unrestrictive access to their healthcare provider, often report little to no wait time (do you ever wonder why they call you patients?), and have longer appointments.

Patients also receive up-front pricing. With a traditional health insurance plan, a patient typically does not know the amount that his or her insurance will be billed after seeing their doctor. After deductibles or copays are accounted for, the patient receives an explanation of what they are expected to pay for the visit. DPC eliminates this confusion. Patients know the exact monthly cost of membership for visits. Affordable, transparent costs are based on an overall flat rate (i.e. membership). Patients pay for their care directly to the physician. There are no third parties or Fee for Service billing ("FFS") to inflate costs. Most DPC memberships/subscriptions cost less than the average cell phone bill. The monthly fee covers most typical primary care services, including preventative care, care coordination (medication check-ups), comprehensive care (visits for strep throat or the flu), and consultations. Patients also receive deeply discounted, cash-pay pricing for medications, lab (bloodwork) tests, and imaging tests.

DPC physicians are also more accessible. Patients usually have access to same-day and next-day visits, 30- to 60-minute appointments if they choose, and the option to call, email, text, or video chat with a provider virtually anytime. In addition, many (including Harmony Whole Health) offer house calls, old-timey style! Can your doctor do that?

So how popular is Direct Primary Care?

According to (ironic!), as of 2022, there are more than 1,700 direct primary care practices operating in nearly every state in the U.S. The number of direct primary care practices has been steadily growing, and the idea has become more popular with patients over the last decade. Are you ready to join the DPC movement and take back your healthcare? Join us here!

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