We all were hoping that Obamacare would have been the revolution that healthcare needed. After all the US spends by far the most on healthcare compared to other countries (about twice as much as Norway who spends the 2nd most). With all that money put into healthcare one would think that the US would also be one of the healthiest; unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37th. It would have been really great if Obamacare would have worked. By no stretch of the imagination has that been true. Insurance premiums have been on the rise ever since it started and far fewer people have signed up for health insurance than expected. With the premiums on the rise people have had to opt for more affordable high deductible plans, which means most people will be paying cash for healthcare and not really using their expensive insurance. There are a lot more issues with Obamacare sadly, however, I would like to talk more about a true healthcare revolution.
Direct primary care (DPC). Unlike Obamacare, which is trying to help everyone obtain health insurance, DPC focuses on helping people get actual care. Unfortunately, a health insurance card does not mean you get care (at least in a reasonable time frame). It is a very simple concept where patients deal DIRECTLY with their doctors to get care. Typically, doctors will charge a monthly fee usually ranging from $50-$150/month which allows a patient to have 24/7 access to the doctor. This generally includes unlimited same or next day appointments with no co-pays, the doctor's cell phone number (which they can use to call or text anytime), email access and occasionally house calls. Most DPC doctor's will also give their patient's wholesale pricing on labs, medications and procedures.
Even though it appears that Obamacare has worsened healthcare in the US it has actually lit a fire for a revolution. Patients and doctors have had enough; patients just want to be able to see their doctor when they are sick, not 2-3 weeks later. Patients are then forced to go to a urgent care or emergency room, wait 3-4 hours and get a bill for $1,000+ when it most likely could have been handled by their family doctor much more quickly and for less money. About 75% of ER can be handled by a outpatient clinic. This is where DPC can make a huge difference. Imagine it is 6 pm on a Saturday, you are making dinner and cutting up some vegetables with a knife you freshly sharpened. You turn to make sure your children are not getting into something and slip and cut your hand. You cannot stop the bleeding and it's obvious you are going to need stitches. In the current model your only option is an ER or an urgent care (if you can get there before they close). Then you remember you have a DPC physician and give them a call! They meet you at the clinic 30 minutes later and in another 30 minutes your hand is like new and you're heading home. That one ER visit you just avoided paid for your membership for at least 2-3 years.
Another major example of why DPC is going to revolutionize healthcare is wholesale medications. Most doctors want to try and save their patients money and try and prescribe medications that are on a $4 list somewhere. Interestingly, in most states doctors can dispense their own medications. With DPC, doctors are making their income on the monthly membership, therefore they can pass on savings to patients by giving them the wholesale price. This means those medications that are $4 at Walmart are 80-90% cheaper when they are wholesale. For some patients the savings on medications alone can pay for their membership and then some.
You may ask, "why would I pay for a DPC doctor if I have insurance?" Well, like I mentioned before, with plans getting more expensive people will have to get higher deductible plans and have to pay cash for primary care anyways, so why not get good primary care? Aside from that, health insurance is the only type of insurance that tries to cover EVERYTHING. Home owners insurance does not cover new paint, air filters or light bulbs; nor does car insurance cover new brakes or tires. Primary care should be the same way. When it is practiced outside of insurance it is made much more affordable and increases the quality at the same time.
If you want to figure out how you can join this revolution you can visit www.iwantdirectcare.com to find a DPC doctor near you. If you are in the Springfield, Missouri area, I will be opening a practice January 2016 called Command Family Medicine. To get on the waiting list or get more information, visit my website at www.command.md.