In past years we have visited the Smith Family, a typical working family of three looking to reduce their healthcare expenses through a membership with our Direct Primary Care practice, Direct Doctors. We looked at how they were able to save $1350 during their first year as members of Direct Doctors just by switching to a higher-deductible, lower-premium health insurance and joining the practice for their primary care.
We eliminated costs for their family by helping them keep their care in the primary care office setting. We decreased (in fact, eliminated) their need for specialist visits and handled their urgent issues in our office or via text/email/cell phone when necessary.
In their second year as patients, they found additional savings benefits through reduced medication co-pays and laboratory co-pays. This is no mystery - labs and meds cost more when you use third parties.
This is a common question in the Direct Primary Care world. Now that DPCs, like Direct Doctors, are popping up all over the place, patients want to know what options there are to pay the monthly fee (which is billed to patients directly rather than through insurance as in a typical practice).
Let’s start with the FSA - or flexible spending account. These accounts allow employees to put aside a certain amount of pre-tax dollars to be used on healthcare costs. FSAs are administered and run by various third parties. In our experience, whoever the third party administrator is will determine whether the FSA can be used to cover monthly fees. They allow doctor payments to be covered almost universally, but whether they allow you to set up a monthly direct debit varies from one to the other. For those who prefer not to do monthly fee coverage, they will often allow you to submit a few times a year to request a lump sum reimbursement for the fee you’ve paid up until that point as “doctors fees.”
Bottom line - check with your FSA’s third party administrator on what they prefer!
Patients of Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices, like Direct Doctors, have really come to love the ability to reach their doctor through modern technology. We’re all used to texting and emailing our friends and family - so, why is the traditional medical world so behind on using this form of communication?
There are a few main reasons that your doctor isn’t letting you text them:
This is one of the more common questions we get from patients wondering why they’d pay a monthly fee to join our practice. Many patients “only go to the doctor once a year for a physical,” or “aren’t on any medications.” Others cannot fathom paying for primary care on a monthly basis when they are used to the slow, inefficient traditional primary care practices that are impossible to get in contact with.
However, we have many of these patients in our practice. They come to realize that direct primary care practices like Direct Doctors are beneficial for many reasons, even for generally healthy patients. For one thing, many patients realize that they probably use a physician more than they think. Whether it’s an urgent care visit for a sore throat, an ER visit for stitches, or just a simple medical question that required an in person visit at a traditional practice, patients often underestimate the amount they use the medical system, or would use it with a better overall experience. All of these can be handled at our practice, at no charge on top of the monthly fee, in a patient friendly and efficient manner. And that ER visit for a simple laceration repair most likely costs more than a year of membership to our practice.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.