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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Cost of Not Having a DPC Physician

The most common question I hear from prospective new patients who already have insurance, and don't yet understand the DPC model, is "Why would I pay you $40 a month when I already have insurance?"  In many cases, a DPC practice saves more than the amount of the membership fee.  The following is a sampling of the many opportunities DPC affords for savings:

-- there are no costs, such as co-pays, when you see the doctor
-- there is a lower likelihood of expensive urgent care services due to the accessibility to the doctor
-- there is a lower likelihood of expensive imaging tests being ordered due to the extra time that the physician has to determine the cause of symptoms, using less expensive and less invasive diagnostic tests
-- The physician will proactively look for the least expensive medications, when medications are needed.
-- you are less likely to be referred out for expensive specialist evaluation due to the extra time the physician can spend looking for the root cause of your problems
-- when testing is needed outside of the office, the physician proactively looks for the least expensive way to get testing done using very economical cash pricing options when possible
-- you are less likely to miss time away from work due to same-day accessibility and the opportunity to get well quicker.
-- you are less likely to miss time away from work due to the possibility of alternative visit models such as phone visits or virtual visits when possible
-- some visits can be avoided by the opportunity to ask the doctor questions by text message or email

And finally, the insurance can be changed to a higher deductible, catastrophic plan that carries a lower premium that saves more than the membership fee.  Or changing 1 or 2 costly prescriptions to a cheaper equivalent can save more than the membership fee. So all these benefits essentially cost nothing if the net health cost goes down each month. 

Ultimately it's not just about cost but, rather, the opportunity to have a partner in helping you enjoy better health.  When your physician has the time to explain the pros and cons of diagnostic testing rather than just giving you an order to have it done, you may be spared the harmful effects (of radiation, for example).  When you understand the benefits and risks of prescription drugs, as well as the alternatives such as "therapeutic lifestyle change," you are less likely to experience the toxic effects of medication.  

In the end, it is generally I who asks, "How can you afford not having a DPC physician?"

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