CBS — More doctors are choosing to NOT accept insurance and instead charge monthly fees. It’s called Direct Primary Care.
And Chuck Gulat has it. He doesn’t feel rushed when he sees his primary care doctor. He comes as often as he wants, and doesn’t need insurance to pay for it. Sounds almost too good to be true? “I’m living it. And it seems too good to be true. “
He pays a $60 a month membership fee to doctor toMaura McLaughlin. Her Charlottesville, Virginia practice is part of a new trend called direct primary care., it’s one of nearly 700 nationwide. Unlimited visits and urgent care are included. Often doctors negotiate lab work and prescription drug prices at cost.
“The model itself works sort of like Netflix,” explains McLaughlin. “They can use the services here as often as they need to. “ Patients like Gulat are still encouraged to carry a lower cost insurance plan to cover medical emergencies. For Dr. McLaughlin, she can spend more time with patients and less tied up in medical red tape.
“I think the part that gets physicians burned out, clicking boxes on the computer instead of looking at the patient.” But critics, like Dr. Ed Weisbart, are concerned the shortage of primary care doctors will grow, since these doctors see fewer patients. Also, high deductible plans leave specialists uncovered. “That opens the door to this huge range of medical problems, that fall in-between the catastrophe and primary care,” says Weisbart.
Gulat comes every three months for his high blood pressure and diabetes, “hands down, it’s made me physically healthier, and financially healthier.” He’s now saving about $1,300 dollars a year.
Some employers are giving employees the option of joining direct primary care practices to help reduce their health care costs. Laws have been passed in 23 states regulating direct primary care.
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