On March 19th, 2020, California placed the first stay-at-home order in the United States. As a result, everyone other than essential workers were forced to stay at home, and non-essential businesses closed or reduced their hours.
The rest of the country followed suit, with the last state enforcing their first day of lockdown on April 7th. With a contagious virus on the loose and thousands of Americans infected every day, the healthcare system was crumbling.
Primary care under the traditional insurance-based model relied on patients scheduling an appointment. However, the threat of contagion forced people seeking healthcare to explore alternatives that did not require them to go out. One such alternative is Direct Primary Care.
Direct Primary Care, or DPC, is an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service system that provides exceptional healthcare to patients for a monthly membership fee.
This membership fee includes benefits of DPC such as having a direct line to the doctor, same-day or next-day appointment booking, longer appointment sessions, and big discounts on prescriptions and basic laboratory procedures.
Another doctor has seen the value of mainstreaming DPC. Dr. Harsha Moole, the founder of Find My Direct Doctor, aims to connect patients all over the United States to DPC practices in their area. He believes that these practices are designed to handle the worst of the pandemic.
More patients are expected to make the switch to DPC soon after seeing the advantages of Direct Primary Care over the insurance-based model.
Improved healthcare accessibility in the pandemic
Providers under the insurance-based model long regarded telemedicine – one of the more common inclusions under a DPC membership contract – to be subpar to face-to-face appointments.
With no patients coming in, the same providers scramble to adapt this supposedly inferior method to minimize revenue loss. They are unprepared to handle no-contact appointments, but they must respond to the challenge.
However, not everyone adapted. Some practices turned away patients because of the lack of preparedness and of the infrastructure to support telemedicine.
Meanwhile, their DPC counterparts have extended beyond offering telemedicine to their panel. The extended conveniences afforded to DPC members sounded more appealing in the pandemic.
As was the case before the lockdowns, patients that require regular appointments can still keep meeting their provider so without leaving their homes through Direct Primary Care.
Apart from telemedicine, most DPC doctors also go to the patient’s house should the situation call for it. They are also available 24/7 to address any medical concern immediately. This empowered patients to better care for their health because professional help is accessible.
Mass vaccinations may revert the situation to normalcy soon, but the conveniences afforded through Direct Primary Care could permanently impact the expectations of patients from their providers.
Decreased healthcare costs
Insurance premiums are on the rise. This year, it is expected to increase by 3% to 4.5%.
The average DPC membership fee falls at $73.92 per month for an average adult. Without insurance, the cost of one doctor’s appointment would be hundreds of dollars. The actual amount owed is normally only revealed after the fact.
For more serious medical issues, the bill would be much higher.
Direct Primary Care removes financial concern on their part, which could have prevented them from accessing much-needed professional medical care.
Deep discounts on prescription drugs and lab services could also prevent much higher spending on emergency care, allowing households to preserve their savings or allocate them to their other needs.
25% of people in the United States lost their jobs to the pandemic. For some, this meant losing their employer-sponsored health insurance.
Although many have since gained employment as states eased their respective pandemic restrictions, this still makes the affordability brought by Direct Primary Care more essential than ever.
Physicians leaving the traditional insurance-based system
With the patients shifting towards Direct Primary Care as a viable approach to healthcare, even more, providers will consider supplying the growing demand for DPC.
We think there is an audience of fellow physicians ready to listen, physicians who have previously contemplated DPC and now, unfortunately, are more ready, and physicians who have never heard of DPC. - Dr. White said.
He believes that the status quo of relying on insurance providers will generate the same failings in the future, so he is optimistic about the future of Direct Primary Care.
The numbers never lie. If you want to see for yourself why 9 out of 10 DPC patients are happy with their healthcare, search for a DPC provider in your area and experience everything that Direct Primary Care has to offer.