What is direct primary care?

Ameeth Reddy
May 31 · 4 min read

Despite the many doctors out there practicing direct primary care, the concept still isn’t very well known. When talking to businesses and employees we often get puzzled looks. We’ve been so trained to understand traditional health insurance that we’ve forgotten what health care really can look like.

Well, it’s not that complex. Direct primary care (DPC) is like Netflix for doctors. Instead of paying for insurance premiums (and co-pays and deductibles), you pay a monthly membership fee to get unlimited access to your primary care doctor. We think this is amazing — here’s why:

  1. It’s more affordable and transparent.
  2. It supports the whole family.
  3. It’s unlimited.
  4. It’s convenient.

But won’t paying cash for your doctor cost a lot?

Actually, no. Routine primary care is really affordable. In fact, insurance is the reason primary care costs are so high today. DPC doesn’t come with all the back office and administrative costs associated with insurance, and it leverages technology to be more efficient. And, unlike most health plans today, it’s built on a philosophy of transparency.

By cutting out administrative overhead and making prices as transparent and affordable as possible, DPC doctors are driving down costs for their patients. These doctors contract directly with lab companies so they can get steep discounts on most tests. For example, a simple blood test, when billed through insurance, is at least $57. But if you were to pay cash through a DPC membership, that cost drops to just $9. If you needed a knee x-ray, a DPC doctor could provide that for as low as $60 instead of the usual $200+.

Keep in mind, the only difference between the $9 blood test and the $57 blood test in the example above is administrative fees added by insurance. Insurance companies don’t release their fee schedules and it’s next to impossible to get real, transparent data from them because they don’t want you to understand where your money is going. We’re in the middle of a healthcare crisis in this country, yet health insurance companies are enjoying a marked increase in profits every single year. Somehow, that doesn’t seem right.

DPC doctors, on the other hand, have nothing to hide. They aren’t out to squeeze you for your last dollar, and they are fiercely protective of their patients health and finances. This means that they will always point you in the direction of the highest quality and value providers for any referred services (labs, radiology, etc.) It also means that they will shield you from predatory middle-men that are trying to add extra costs.

That being said, insurance isn’t always a bad thing. It can be really helpful when used at the right time. It shouldn’t be used, however, on basic services like getting a blood test. By going through insurance, you’re just driving up the overall cost of your care, which will be reflected in your premium increase the following year. Using DPC to manage your primary care (80% of the health care that you actually need) and then pairing it with a high-deductible insurance plan will allow you to keep costs down but still be covered in case something serious happens.

DPC doctors usually charge between $40–75 per month and include:

  • Comprehensive primary care focused on prevention and wellness
  • Services like stitches and joint injections
  • Significant discounts on other services like MRIs, labs, tests, and prescription drugs

It supports your whole family

Many DPC doctors offer family plans, with some charging just $10 for kids. A family of four can get unlimited care for just $118 per month with some doctors. That can save you a lot of money if you have a young family since you won’t have to pay co-pays every time your kids need the doctor.

If you have newborns or toddlers, some DPC doctors even specialize in pediatrics. They’ll be able to handle all your needs in those crucial early days. Plus, it’s nice to have them available by text or email for quick questions or concerns.

If you suffer from chronic conditions, you should consider a naturopathic DPC doctor. These doctors are specifically trained to deal with chronic conditions, and take a holistic approach to managing your health. You can expect plenty of time during your visits to ask questions and give them a full picture of how you’re doing.

DPC is unlimited and convenient

When you enroll in a DPC membership, you have unlimited access to your primary care doctor. Just like a gym membership, you can go as much as you need (or want). It’s also super convenient. DPC doctors don’t make you wait days or even weeks for appointments by offering them same-day or next-day. Most doctors also text, email, or video chat if it’s more convenient for you. DPC combines the convenience and affordability of urgent care clinics with the quality and continuity of your regular doctor.

These doctors believe in taking their time and managing your overall health. They want you to let them know if you’re not feeling well. And, if you need to come in once a week, that’s fine too — they won’t charge you more.

Good access to primary care is the foundation of health, and direct primary care is benefiting individuals and families across the country. If you’d like more info on whether DPC is right for you, click here. If you already know you want to get a DPC membership, then we can help you find your DPC doctor right now!

Equal Health

Ameeth Reddy

Written by

Founder/CEO of Equal Health — better primary care for your employees (www.tryequal.com)

Equal Health

Easy, affordable direct primary care for your employees

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