As everyone knows, the cost of medical care continues to rise (except at Direct Primary Care practices!). A major portion of patient expenses often come from prescription medications. Consumer reports recently published an article highlighting this very thing. There are many reasons for the increasing drug costs (excessive markups, physician unawareness of pricing, cost shifting from employers to patients, etc), but at Direct Doctors we pay special attention to this part of our patients finances.
First and foremost, we’d much rather provide treatment options that do not involve pharmaceuticals! Because we have time to spend with patients, we would much prefer to come up with a lifestyle treatment plan involving exercise, weight loss, dietary changes, outcomes tracking with apps like Twine and MyFitnessPal, etc. So, if we can avoid our patients spending any money at all on meds, we absolutely will.
Secondly, there are many online resources, like goodrx.com, that provide coupons for medications. The pricing and best pharmacy change often, but this is certainly a resource we help patients utilize. Because we are not seeing 30 patients a day for 7 minutes at a time and have time to think about things other than billing and coding, costs for medications and services are always something we discuss with our patients.
Finally, Rhode Island is one of 44 states in the country that allow physicians to buy and dispense medications themselves. So, at Direct Doctors we have the ability to buy medications at wholesale pricing and distribute them to our patients without the huge markups you see at large pharmacies. While generic medication should be cheap and affordable, many patients have copays of $5 to $30 a month, and those on multiple meds can pay hefty monthly fees for meds along. Patients without insurance or with high deductible plans may pay ten times these amounts for the same meds. Also insurance dictates which drugs are on their “preferred” list (even though there is no good medical reason) along with how many pills can be dispensed at a time, etc.
Alternatively, take a look at typical pricing (approximate) for medications through our clinic:
We’re happy to chat with all of our patients about how cost affects their medical care, and prescription meds specifically, and would love to discuss further with prospective patients who are interested in signing up.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.