In this comprehensive free guide you'll learn some of my fastest prescription savings tricks...
October 2, 2018 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Direct Primary Care
Healthcare costs are getting increasingly out of hand in the United States, due in large part to the activities of third-party insurers. These entities, which stand between consumers and providers of healthcare, obfuscate the true costs of medications and treatments.
They have also misaligned incentives, so that doctors are not fully motivated to make the best decisions for your health and your wallet.
For those who want to lower their healthcare costs, gain greater control over their healthcare decisions, and to start living healthier lives, the first thing you should do is to switch to direct primary care.
Direct primary care is a movement that is gaining momentum in the US to provide cash-based medical services at very accessible prices for consumers. They have rejected third-party insurance companies in order to restore the direct relationship between doctors and patients, better align their incentives and help make pricing transparent.
Of course, not all direct primary care providers are equal. So when choosing the right one for you, there are a number of key things that you should look for.
As affordable as direct primary care doctors aim to be, choosing to sign up with one is still a major financial decision. So to start, you should treat this like you would any large purchase and do your research on all of the options.
First, go online and discover all of the direct primary care providers in your area, and take note of their prices and the doctors’ qualifications.
Just as you have to do when choosing which phone to buy or which restaurant to go to, you must find a balance between quality and price that you feel comfortable with.
In my opinion, excellent primary care can be provided by midlevel providers, such as nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants, as well as doctors. Aiming for a more basic level of service can go a long way in lowering your costs.
You can check either online or when you visit the clinic to see if they work with health sharing ministries. There are some health sharing ministry plans that allow you to deduct the cost of your direct primary care membership from your fee.
For those in very difficult financial situations and who are completely free of a third-party insurance company, this is a great deal.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, visit the clinics in person. Each is their own business, so you’ll want to see what their practice is like, what are their unique selling points, and how good is the service.
Schedule an appointment to speak with the doctors you are considering to get a feel for how they interact with their patients. Most direct primary care doctors will be willing to meet with prospective patients to talk about their practice, so you should have that opportunity.
What should you be looking for? First off, you want a doctor that is diligent and will take the necessary time to listen to you. After all, personalized attention is one of the main benefits of having a direct relationship with your primary care provider.
As part of this, I would also look for doctors who are able to see you on a same-day basis. Obviously, due to demand, this may not always be possible, but check to see if this is even an option. If not, this may be a sign that service is not at the core of their business model.
Additionally, you may want to confirm whether they have a user-friendly electronic platform. If some of your health concerns can be dealt with online or over the phone, without you having to come into their office, this will save you a significant amount of time and money.
Arguably more important than their expertise is a doctor’s approach to healthcare.
This might sound like a silly question, but does this doctor put an emphasis on promoting health?
This is a very important consideration for me, and unfortunately, doctors who truly promote health are less common than you would hope.
What this means is finding a doctor who doesn’t just treat sickness, but aims to promote healthy lifestyles through diet, exercise, and more.
How we live our lives can affect our health over the long term. Personally, I would look for a doctor who helps me lead a healthy life so I don’t get sick to begin with, not just someone who can treat me once I’m already sick.
If you have a disease, this means managing that disease in an ideal way—outside of just prescription medications—to prevent it from progressing or to get it to regress.
One of the best things you can do to reduce your medical bill and regain control of your healthcare is to switch to direct primary care providers. This will require you to take more responsibility for your healthcare decisions and to spend some time researching. But this can have a very positive impact on your health and savings in the long run.
This information is intended to help readers be more informed about their health options when speaking with a professional, but it should not be used alone to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Be sure to speak to a qualified doctor before taking any action to make sure that your choices reflect your actual health situation.