I project that in a year of quarterly “insured” PCP visits, I’d likely spend over $400 out-of-pocket, whereas with my doctor, I’ll spend over $900.
However, comparing my recent lab work costs, I would have saved about $450 had she drawn the labs for me. Her wholesale prescription service will also save me at least $300 over a year compared to average retail prices. All told, I estimate a net savings of over $400 this year through my DPC membership. The potential for additional savings for other services is significant, particularly as I approach the age for screening colonoscopy – which she has coordinated for around $1,000 for her patients.
In summary, despite a monthly fee, DPC pays for itself (and then some) in many forms of savings and benefit. I believe DPC to be economically superior to the current third-party payer model of medical practice. This is especially true for primary care and non-emergent outpatient medical services – which are arguably the majority of the demand in health care.
I believe that DPC may be medically superior as this model allows physicians the time and flexibility to know their patients and accommodate their needs.
DPC may also be superior from inter-personal, personal satisfaction, and humanistic aspects as the rushed, frustrating (for doctor and patient), insurance-restricted, 10-minute visit is replaced with greater availability, depth, flexibility, frequency and duration of interactions.
Lastly, I consider the non-transparency of pricing in our profession to be a moral affront against the patient-consumer who has little idea of his financial obligation or exposure until after the fact. I can think of no other service or product line with similarly hidden and confusing costs. I have not found my own path to higher moral ground as a physician provider, yet, but I’m pushing us all towards greater awareness of costs and of systemic obstacles to transparency. For myself, as a patient, direct primary care is a great stride forward.