Direct Primary Care: The secret to lower healthcare costs and better health

January 13, 2022
Josie Livengood

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For those unfamiliar, direct primary care (DPC) is the method of paying a subscription fee (typically monthly or yearly) to see your primary care physician as often as you want rather than paying through the traditional fee-for-service model. If you want to go more in-depth on what DPCs are and how they work, check out this blog.

The DPC movement  keeps patients healthier by reducing barriers to speaking with their primary care doctor and reduces patient frustration with confusing fee-for-service billing.But the benefits don’t stop there. DPC is also great for employers, health cost sharing groups, discount medical plans, and limited benefit medical plans. DPC can lower these groups’ cost curves, improve member satisfaction, and improve members’ health. How? Keep reading to find out!

How does direct primary care lower costs?

The average monthly cost of a DPC membership is $93.26, which is a great value when you consider that this fee often covers not just unlimited visits but also: 

  • Clinical or laboratory services 
  • Consultative services 
  • Care coordination 
  • And comprehensive care management.

DPC lowers healthcare costs for payers too. Paying for a portion of members’ DPC subscription can be potentially less than the negotiated rates with fee-for-service providers. The main way DPC lowers the cost curve though is through better member satisfaction and higher retention. DPC leads to better member satisfaction, resulting in higher retention rates for you. When your retention is high, you don’t have to spend as much time or money on new member acquisition, which is great news since it costs five times more to acquire new members or employees than to retain them. For employers, it’s especially important to maintain or improve retention since the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 400% of their annual salary

How does direct primary care improve health?

Only 62% of insured adults are very or somewhat confident in their ability to afford healthcare. Fear of expensive medical bills is a huge problem when one in every four patients skips medical treatment or a follow-up appointment because they’re afraid they can’t afford it. With direct primary care, patients don’t pay per visit so there’s never an excuse to not get care when someone needs it. This means that patients are more likely to address a health issue as soon as they notice it, rather than waiting for it to get so bad they can’t ignore it anymore. Which of course, often leads to more complex and expensive care. With DPC, patients are far more likely to catch issues early on and therefore improve their health and reduce long term costs. DPC practices are also available through online communication portals, which means patients can ask their doctor about a medical issue they’ve been having and get a course of treatment over a text. DPCs are also often able to spend more time with their patients; in many cases, the initial appointment with a DPC will last an hour so they can build a relationship and the doctor can understand the patient’s health needs. All of this leads to better health outcomes for patients. This in turn leads to lower costs and happier members for employers, health cost sharing groups, discount medical plans, and limited benefits medical plans.

Final thoughts.

If you’re an employer, health cost sharing group, discount medical plan, or limited benefits medical plan that’s looking to lower healthcare costs, improve your members’ health and satisfaction, and introduce healthcare consumerism into your offerings, direct primary care is the perfect solution.

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Discover the major changes happening that affect you, how to prepare, and even how to make the new rules work in your favor.

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Discover how TPAs, health cost sharing groups, and limited benefit medical plans can benefit from the use of ASCs.

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Download the Complete Guide to Retaining Health Plan Members.

Learn the best strategies and tips for retaining your members while keeping costs low.

Download the Complete Guide to Growing Your Health Plan Membership

Learn the best strategies and tips for growing your members while keeping costs low.

Download the Complete Guide to Lowering Member Costs

Discover what health plan members had to say about the value of patient advocacy in our survey.

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