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Hidden Costs

Recently, I spoke with a small business owner who was so frustrated by [insert the name of the largest health system in our area] and her inability to get care from her primary care physician (she has a plan called "Choice" but there's really no choice there - she has to stay within that hospital system for care). Unable to get an appt with her PCP for an acute flare of a chronic medical condition, she has been using urgent care and paying them out of pocket because they're out of network with the health system that her plan is tied to. She was not happy about having to pay $400 per visit (at many urgent cares, your visits are about 10-20 mins max).

I told her about DPC and her reaction (similar to most people who initially hear about membership based care) was: "but I'm healthy and I hardly ever go to see the doctor." This was after she told me she had been to urgent care twice in the past couple of months for the one chronic condition that flared up. I pointed out to her that with the money she paid for those two visits to urgent care, she could have put it towards a year's worth of DPC with unlimited visits and get ridiculous savings in wholesale priced meds and lab tests. She wants to switch her insurance to a PPO in the fall so that she can join.

The cost of healthcare is never transparent when you are within the system. In the case above, this small business owner is paying a hefty price for health insurance premiums - yet, rather than being able to see a physician who knows her, she has needed to pay out of pocket to receive TIMELY care.

I cannot help but think of how that scenario would have been vastly different if she was a DPC patient. She could have called up her DPC office and talked with her physician, arranged for an urgent visit or if it is an issue that could be diagnosed via phone call, she could have received treatment the same day, with little disruption to her work/life schedule. Imagine if she was a mom with multiple toddlers at home. It is extremely difficult arranging for childcare so that you can seek medical care, but also difficult to juggle bringing all of your children to the visit.

DPC: a way to think outside of the box to achieve better outcomes and build more robust therapeutic relationships between patients and their physicians.

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