““Direct primary care” is a rapidly growing alternative to the traditional “fee-for-service” model of paying for medical care. Instead of the patient or his insurance plan paying the doctor separately for each visit or service, the patient pays the physician a set monthly fee. In exchange, the physician is available to consult with and treat the patient as necessary.
For patients, the benefits of direct primary care are greater access to their doctors and more convenient and personalized care. Under direct primary care, patients can generally expect “all primary care services covered, including care management and care coordination…seven-day-a-week, around the clock access to doctors, same-day appointments, office visits of at least 30 minutes, basic tests at no additional charge, and phone and email access to the physician.” Some practices may offer additional services under the arrangement, such as EKGs or medications at wholesale cost.
Physicians benefit from eliminating costly and time-consuming overhead required to get paid on a fee-for-service basis. It also enables them to reduce their practice costs and spend more time actually treating their patients–-which is why they became doctors in the first place.
Direct primary care often comes with a reasonable price tag. Twelve percent of direct primary care practices charge less than $50 per person per month. One-third of practices charge $50 to $100 per month, and nearly two-thirds charge $135 or less per month. Those rates compare quite favorably to other common monthly consumer expenses. For instance, the average monthly cable bill is $123 a month, and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household spends $221 a month on gasoline and $320 a month on groceries.”

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