If you’re frustrated by the impersonal experience of your health care provider, you aren’t alone. Many providers are understaffed and overwhelmed by the number of patients they see, resulting in each one getting less time and personal attention. Unfortunately, many people have chosen to accept this as the norm, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Among the different healthcare models that have developed in the past few decades, two focusing on affordability and personal relationships between patients and providers have emerged. These models, called direct primary care and concierge medicine, have structured fees so that doctors remain accessible and can spend more time with each patient.
If you’re new to the concepts of direct primary care and concierge medicine, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown and comparison below. After reading this, we’re confident you’ll see the advantages they hold over traditional healthcare services.
What Is Direct Primary Care?
Direct Primary Care (or DPC) is comparable to a membership or subscription model applied to regular doctor visits. You make regularly scheduled payments to your care provider. In exchange, you get to see them as often as you want, and they can spend more time with you and less time processing billing.
While it can vary from provider to provider, DPC grants patients more flexibility than traditional healthcare models in a few crucial ways. Membership fees remain flat regardless of services, how often you visit, and what treatment you need. The total cost of fees covers complete (or near full) services, with only a few exceptions. DPC is also considered an acceptable non-insurance program by the Affordable Care Act.
You can pay membership fees on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly schedule. In addition to having more immediate (and frequent) access to a care provider, you can schedule on shorter notice, too. Memberships can be canceled at any time, requiring no long-term commitment.
What is Concierge Medicine?
People sometimes describe concierge medicine and DPC as being the same service. While they share an underlying membership structure and provide many of the same benefits, concierge medicine differs in how you pay for it. Specifically, it requires a membership fee as well as insurance. The membership fees grant you the same benefits as DPC, while the insurance requirement covers additional costs your membership fee may not.
Because of this, concierge medicine is the more expensive option of the two. You should also note that concierge medicine operates as part of a network, whereas DPC providers are independent. Therefore, if a concierge medicine provider needs to refer you to a specialist, it will be limited to one in their network. However, you can deduct many costs associated with in-network care.
Concierge medicine memberships often require an annual contract. Most providers will let you pay on a schedule, not unlike DPC, but you cannot cancel before the contract expires. Because of this contract system, concierge medicine may be a better choice for those with a more stable income.
Which Choice is Right For Me?
Besides financial considerations, you may need to look at your other needs to determine which family care options are best for you. For example, whether you’re looking for a family medical center, a mental health clinic, or a primary care doctor, you’ll find providers working with either payment model. So instead, let’s take a look at the following important factors.
- How often and for how long will you be visiting the office?
It can be difficult to anticipate a year’s worth of visits and the length of each visit. Direct primary care is typically the more robust and flexible option between the two. Concierge medicine typically offers longer appointments, but it’s often hard to determine the actual cost because insurance is also billed. For those with more financial means and traditional insurance plans, Concierge medicine can be a great fit. DPC works well for people in all financial tiers and for those looking for a bit more flexibility in cancelling your plan.
- Do you need insurance to cover costs?
Insurance will not cover membership costs for neither DPC or Concierge medicine. Both DPC and Concierge medicine will offer services, and often Concierge clinics will charge your insurance for those services, while DPC will not. DPC will often have extra charges (such as labs or medications) that go above and beyond the membership fee, but often they are negotiated at a rate lower than what insurance pays for those same services. In Concierge medicine, those extra services will fall under deductibles and your specific insurance plan, so you may not know what charges will be until months later.
- Does your state require health insurance?
Concierge medicine requires you to have an insurance policy in addition to paying annual membership fees. However, because concierge medicine providers are part of networks with hospitals and insurance companies, not every approach will be accepted. If concierge medicine interests you but your insurance isn’t accepted, you may choose DPC, but insurance won’t help cover the membership fee or the costs not included with membership.
Choose Assurance Healthcare Family Medical Clinic for DPC
Your health should feel important to you and your healthcare provider, and the personalized and attentive care provided by Direct Primary Care is the best way to ensure this. If you’re tired of dealing with brief, impersonal appointments where there’s not enough time to address all of your concerns adequately, you can put your health and trust in Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center.
Our simple membership plan gets you same-day appointments, unlimited visits, and medications and tests at a low, not-for-profit cost. Most importantly, you’ll get a provider who can make time for you and all of your concerns when you need their attention most. Contact our team now and learn more or to become a member.