About Direct Primary Care FAQs
Direct Primary Care is an increasingly popular model of care that puts the relationship between the doctor and the patient first, while minimizing cost and restrictions that often burden traditional practices that take insurance. In this model, fees are paid directly to your doctor on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, and there are no hidden fees or complex invoices. One affordable monthly fee, and NO OTHER BILLS!
While most Family Physicians have a patient panel of 2,500 to 4,000, in the DPC model, physicians usually keep their numbers in the hundreds. This means more relaxed visits without feeling rushed, easier access for appointments and refills, and a doctor who calls you back personally when you have a question. Imagine a doctor who has time to focus on YOU, not on paperwork and billing.
What is Direct Primary Care?
Care made simple.
Direct Primary Care is an increasingly popular model of care that puts the relationship between the doctor and the patient first, while minimizing cost and restrictions that often burden traditional practices that take insurance. In this model, fees are paid on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, and there are no hidden fees or complex invoices.
While most Family Physicians have a patient panel of 2,500 to 4,000, in the DPC model, physicians usually keep their numbers in the hundreds. This means more relaxed visits without feeling rushed, easier access for appointments and refills, and a doctor who calls you back personally when you have a question.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Family Medicine?
Family Medicine is a medical specialty designed to train physicians to care for people of all ages, throughout their lifetime. Family Physicians train along side Pediatricians, Internists and OBGYNs in both the clinic and the hospital setting, however, the main focus of our training is in the clinic or outpatient setting. I like to say we are the "outpatient experts." We also train directly with Dermatologists, Orthopedists, Cardiologists, etc, to learn about each organ system, and a wide variety of disease entities. Much of what Family Physicians do is called "preventative care," or educating patients on how to stay well. Family Physicians also pay special attention to their patients’ lives within the context of family and the community. While there are similarities between Family Medicine and the other primary care specialties, Family Physicians have an unprecedented opportunity to have an impact on the health of an individual patient over that person’s entire lifetime.
How is Direct Primary Care different from Concierge Medicine?
Both models offer longer appointment times and more personalized care, however, most concierge practices charge a significant annual membership fee which only allows access to the providers. Concierge practices typically bill your insurance, just like a normal medical office, on top of their membership fees. Concierge practices are often too costly for the general population. In contrast, Direct Primary Care aims to make care affordable to all. We are able to keep the cost to patients low by maintaining low overhead costs, largely by taking out the insurance "middle man." This translates to less employees to handle coding, billing and claims, and eliminates the need for a costly EMR directed at billing and coding rather than patient care.
Do I still need insurance?
Yes, we encourage all of our patients to continue their insurance coverage to be used for more expensive aspects of care such as hospitalization, surgery, or specialty consultation. DPC pairs particularly well with a high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account, or a healthcare sharing groups, such as Liberty Healthshare.
What about labs?
The emphasis in a DPC practice is simplicity and value. We order labs just like any other office and you can have your blood drawn right in our office. Basic labs such as annual blood count, liver and kidney function, cholesterol and glucose testing are all INCLUDED in your monthly fee. Most other labs are available to you at wholesale prices, this means less than 10% of the cost you would typically be billed at insurance-based practices. This is just another way DPC can save you money. If you prefer to bill through your insurance, our reference lab can file with your insurance. Your choice.
Can you still refer me?
Absolutely. We are able to refer you for whatever specialty care is needed, for X-rays and scans, and for procedures we do not perform in the office. These more expensive parts of medical care can billed through your insurance plan as usual. The Art of Health has a direct contract with a local radiology group and is able to provide most radiology services at a significantly reduced cost for patients who are uninsured or whose insurance would otherwise not cover these services.
What if I need medical care while I am away from home?
Naturally we provide such care. This is one of the great freedoms DPC practice patients enjoy because of independence from the restrictions of third-party payment. Because we have such a small group of patients, we know you well, and can streamline your care when you’re sick away from home. Many illnesses can be diagnosed and treated with a simple conversation by phone, email, text or webcam. We’ll locate the nearest pharmacy and order the medications most appropriate for your circumstances.
What if I need to be hospitalized?
Hopefully that will be rare, but should you need to be hospitalized, we can refer you to the hospital of your choice, communicate with the hospital staff caring for you, and access your records when appropriate.
What if I have Medicare?
You will need to sign a one-time waiver declaring that neither you nor your doctor will directly bill Medicare for our services. Medicare will still cover any laboratory testing, imaging, medications, or hospitalizations prescribed by our offices.
How do I know if this is the right practice for me?
Schedule a free, unconditional 30 minute visit to discuss your healthcare needs. This will help you decide if we can provide the type of care that is right for you.
What if I change my mind?
We want you to be satisfied. Should you decide to leave our practice at any time, for any reason, we will refund the "unused" portion of your service fees. Our goal is to care for patients who are happy with our care. Please note that there is a $300 re-enrollment fee should you decide to re-enroll with us at a later date.
Can I gift a year of care at The Art of Health to someone else?
Absolutely! At The Art of Health we wholeheartedly believe in paying it forward. You may gift a year of care to either a specific person, or to support someone on our waiting list who is not able to pay. You can choose if you would like your gift to be recognized by name or anonymous. If you are interested and able to help, we would love to discuss this option with you.
DPC in the news
“The idea is deceptively simple: Pay frontline doctors a fixed monthly fee directly instead of through the byzantine insurance bureaucracy. Make the patient, rather than the paperwork, the focus of the doctor’s day. The result will be happier doctors, healthier patients and a striking reduction in wasted expense.” David Von Drehle, “Medicine Is About to Get Personal,” Time, Dec 2014
“Harried by busy schedules and paid on a piecework model, many doctors rush from visit to visit, avoid phone calls and emails that don’t generate payments, and often fail to address the complex social issues that hamper people’s health. This misalignment of financial incentives is a huge problem for patients, who often can’t get the care they need.” Direct Primary Care offers a better way. Margot Sanger-Katx, “Company Thinks It Has Answer for Lower Health Costs: Customer Service,” New York Times, March 27, 2015
“There is a lot to learn from organizations demonstrating the Triple Aim (lower costs, improved outcomes, better consumer experience). I’ve yet to see any model that more consistently delivers on the Triple Aim than Direct Primary Care.” Dave Chase, “Health Plan Rorschach Test: Direct Primary Care,” Forbes, July 2013
"For less than the cost of my daughter's ballet class, I can cover all of her health needs. Our doctor knows us well enough that we can handle many things over the phone. And when we need to be seen, we can always get an appointment, often that very same day, with our own doctor. I would never go back to the old way."
“Direct Primary Care has returned the power to us, as health care consumers. I know my doctor and she knows me and my family.
With Direct Primary care we have peace of mind knowing that if we need to go to the doctor it isn’t going to cost us $100’s of dollars each time. We understand that it does not take the place of insurance, but this is great – to know we can call or see the doctor without breaking our budget.”