In recent years, some consumers have enrolled in a direct primary care plan with their family physicians. In these programs, the patient pays a predetermined amount of money in either monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly payments for the care being provided by their family physician. While this may not be ideal for every patient, there are many who feel it is the best way for them to obtain adequate medical care. These are some ways that direct primary care can be beneficial to patients.
More Affordable Care
With a direct primary care plan, patients are required to pay a set amount for their medical treatment each year. Since the patient is already aware of how much the cost of medical care will be, it is easier to integrate this into a budget. This also prevents the patient from being surprised with a large copay or other up-front costs that must be paid at the time treatment is received. For instance, if a patient pays $100 a month for direct primary care, there will be no additional medical fees when the patient goes in for regular checkups.
Direct primary care also offers longer visits with the family physician. Most traditional family doctor visits may last for 20 minutes or less because the physician has numerous patients waiting to be seen. However, under this program, patients enrolled in the direct primary care plan are often scheduled for visits from 30 to 60 minutes, which allows the patient to receive more individual attention from their family doctor.
It is not uncommon for a much-needed doctor appointment to be scheduled out for several days or even weeks at the time a patient calls to request it. Direct primary care alleviates this issue. Since family physicians who offer this program usually have fewer regular patients, it is possible that appointments can be scheduled in a more timely manner. For those patients who see their family doctor every month, it is often possible to schedule monthly checkup appointments for up to a year in advance with a direct primary care plan.
The only real downfall with a direct primary care program is that it is normally only offered by a family physician. If a patient requires the care of a specialist, this is not included in a direct primary care program, and the patient may still have copays or deductibles to pay at the time the visit with the specialist occurs.