The phone rang one Saturday and my daughter was screaming in pain on the other end of the line. She had fallen off her skate board. Thirty minutes later we enter the ER. 20 minutes in the waiting room, 15 minutes in triage, 30 minutes in the exam room, 3 minutes with the physician assistant, 15 minutes getting the xray, 20 minutes watching the technician and nurse struggle to get the splint set. By this time, she was pale and exhausted from the broken ankle, and we were ready to leave, splint or no splint. Fast forward 3 months later…bills start coming in. Three different bills for the ER visit: hospital ($1,045.74), doctor (who was not a doctor)($578 but my portion was only $121.96), and xray (I can’t find that bill). Then there was the visit to the orthopedist and getting a walking boot. We did elect to get the MRI done out of state to save $2500 since I had a large deductible with my health insurance plan. Got it for around $500. It took 6 months but I thought I had paid all the bills. Get this: I received a bill for the walking boot over ONE YEAR later-$203.49 after adjustments taken.
There has to be a better way.
Enter #direct primary care.
What is direct primary care?
The basic concept is simple. Strip out all the middle men (insurance) between you and your doctor. Instead, replace it with easy access, longer visits, lower and transparent costs, and a doctor who knows their patients and their needs.
* Patients are charged a flat monthly or annual fee, under terms of a contract
* Contract fee covers the cost of all primary care services furnished in the direct primary care practice
* Removes any additional financial barriers the patient may encounter in accessing routine care primary care, including preventative, wellness, and chronic care services
* Uses the power of the relationship between a patient and the doctor to improve patient’s health and lower health care costs
Benefits of DPC in this situation
Accessibility-instead of spending time in the ER, call your doctor and let them know what happened. The doc meets you at the clinic to examine the injury, splint it, give meds, and set up for the xray. You are in and out of the office in 10 minutes. On Monday, you receive a call to see how you are doing and are set up with a follow up with the specialist.
Affordability-instead of having bills coming from different unknown groups, you just have your monthly fee, cost for the splint (without any mark up) and crutches, xray (this might have to be done at the hospital, but you can use your insurance if you would like), pay out of pocket for the MRI (or use
insurance again) and use your insurance for the specialist’s visit. Less bills coming in for months at a time.
Quality-you have a physician who sees you, knows your history (job, lifestyle, etc), has time 30-60 min to spend with you, and can follow up with you as often as you need, instead of having to go back to the specialists after you are better so the specialist can tell you that you are better.
So, I wish I had been enrolled in a direct primary care clinic because I would have several thousand dollars still in my pocket thanks to this and another ER visit later in the year. Had I, even I, a doctor, had access to a doctor who could have been there that Saturday when she fell, my life would have been a lot less stressful, and richer.
To learn more about primary care, watch this short news clip from NBC.http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/direct-primary-care-a-better-way-to-pay-for-healthcare-921649219941