DPC JOURNAL | Top Stories, DPC Perspectives & Latest Interviews

A different kind of doctor’s office: Patients pay directly, keeping insurance out of it.

By Kathleen McGrory, Tampa Bay Times, Staff Writer

Friday, January 22, 2016 11:02am

CLEARWATER, FL — Dr. Trinette Moss runs her family practice a little differently than most physicians.

Instead of taking insurance, she prefers cash, check or credit card.

Billing at her office works like this: Patients between 18 and 49 years old pay $60 a month. The fee covers unlimited office visits, urgent care services and an annual physical. It costs $15 a month to add a child.

Moss says the model, known as direct primary care, makes financial sense. She doesn’t have to hire anyone to file and track insurance claims. And she collects enough in monthly fees to keep her practice small.

“You know your patients better,” she said. “You have more time to spend with them.”

Moss isn’t the only physician who likes the concept. Since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the number of practices like hers has jumped from about 20 to more than 400 nationwide, according to the Direct Primary Care Coalition.

The number could soon grow in Florida. Lawmakers are considering a proposal (HB 37/SB 132) that would ensure direct primary-care providers don’t run afoul of state insurance laws, paving the way for more doctors to contract directly with patients.

“This is a cost-efficient way for physicians to deliver care, and it’s affordable for patients,” said Tim Stapleton of the statewide doctors association, which supports the bill.

The concept of direct primary care isn’t unique. It bears some similarities to concierge medicine, which also requires patients to pay a monthly fee.

There are some key differences. Among them: Concierge practices typically offer a more robust menu of services, including home visits and immediate access to the doctor via telephone or text. They are also more expensive. One practice in St. Petersburg charges patients between $2,500 and $5,000 annually.

“Direct primary care is meant to be accessible to everyday people,” said Jay Keese, executive director of the Direct Primary Care Coalition, an industry group.

Although the model has been around for nearly two decades, it didn’t really enter the mainstream until the Affordable Care Act included it as an acceptable form of health coverage — if paired with a catastrophic plan.

Moss first read about it two years ago in a medical journal. She had long wanted to open a family practice, but feared she would have to see more than 3,000 patients to be financially solvent.


SOURCE: http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/a-different-kind-of-doctors-office-patients-pay-directly-keeping-insurance/2262388

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