Direct Primary Care Works With Your Insurance
Hi, thank you for reading! My name is Dr. Jeff O’Boyle. I am a board certified family medicine physician. My clinic, Beyond Primary Care is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In this post I am answering a common question that I receive, and that is does Direct Primary Care (DPC) work with your insurance? The answer for a vast majority of DPC clinics is yes, DPC works with your insurance, but not for your insurance. This is an important distinction.
DPC does not work FOR your insurance
This is the essence of DPC, that it works directly for you- the patient! We forgo insurance payments in order to save our patients from the arbitrary, intrusive decisions that inevitably follow with third-party payers (health insurance). Furthermore, since DPC practices are independent, we are free from hospital contractual agreements and can offer reduced prices on laboratory tests, imaging, and medications. As noted by this Wall Street Journal article, hospital systems are ignorant of their actual costs. Instead, they often increase prices to meet profit margins.
DPC works WITH your insurance
While DPC’s goal is to cover the vast majority of healthcare needed for all individuals, there are many instances in which a patient may need to utilize their insurance to see providers or utilize services outside the membership.
This would be when a member needs to see a specialist for a condition that requires care past what could be offered in a family medicine clinic. Examples include physician specialist, psychiatrists, counselors, and physical therapists.
Say a member needs a referral to an oncologist- which is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers. No one ever anticipates needing a such a doctor. But when called upon, a DPC doctor will work to find a doctor that accepts your insurance, help coordinate your care, while minimizing your financial impact. How do we minimize your financial impact? If that specialist requires imaging, medications, or blood work, DPC practices will work with you to find the lowest costs– often through our DPC clinics- that meet the needs of the health provider.
From time to time, accidents or serious medical conditions do occur and an elevated level of care is required where a member needs to be monitored 24/7 by a team of doctors and providers.
An example could be a member suffers a broken arm from falling and needs to be hospitalized for a major surgery. DPC will help communicate with your inpatient hospital team of providers making sure they know your current health status and working towards understanding your options for care upon discharge. While we may not be able to care for you in the hospital, we can certainly use virtual medicine (also known as telemedicine) to discuss your needs and questions. We can also give you helpful advice to make sure you won’t receive any unexpected bills from the hospital upon your discharge.
The following picture is a hospital bill from a patient who posted her hospital bill online. The patient was contemplating hurting themselves and walked into an Emergency Room seeking help. The patient states the “physician charges” are NOT shown that bring the grand total to over $18,000!
Here is some FREE Doctor Advice from Beyond Primary Care: In the hospital, ask to know the identity of every unfamiliar person who appears at your bedside. If you’re too ill, ask a companion to serve as gatekeeper. Write it down. What seems like a pleasantry may constitute a $700 consultation
One of the coolest features about DPC is many practices offer in-clinic dispensing of hundreds of generic medications, often at substantial price differences compared to retail pharmacies. Still, there are times a member needs or would benefit from a certain medication that is brand name only (very expensive) and would be best obtained through insurance that requires a prior-authorization from the insurance company.
In this scenario, we will work to fill out the necessary paperwork to get your needed medications at reduced costs or even reach out to the pharmaceutical companies seeking a reimbursement or free supplies on your behalf. A great example is we got one of our members Vivitrol, a vital medication for Medication Assisted Therapy in Addiction Medicine. This medication costs over $1,000 on the market, but we worked to get our member the medication FREE of charge with their insurance. Did I mention the office visit and the injection itself were included with the membership? So the patient literally paid $0. Saving money for our patients gets me so excited!