Are you thinking about making the transition to direct primary care? Here's what you should know before making the leap.
1. Do you understand the fee structure, including what is and isn't covered?
Direct primary care practices charge a retainer fee that covers certain services, but not others (e.g. hospitalization, MRIs, etc.). Make sure you understand specifically what the fee covers and what it doesn't.
2. How will you take care of services that the retainer fee doesn't cover?
Ask the healthcare practice what its other patients do, but don't limit your research there. Make sure you understand all the options available for you and for whoever else will be enrolled through the membership plan.
For example, if someone in the plan is over 65, what role does Medicare play, if any? This will vary depending on the concierge practice and possibly even the state in which the practice resides.
3. Can you afford it?
In the early days of direct primary care, some annual fees were as high as $10,000, but in recent years, this fee has gone down dramatically. According to Concierge Medicine Today, "over 62% of the fees touted by direct-pay or concierge medicine doctors cost patients less than $135 per month."
Still, you need to determine whether this cost works with your budget (and not only the cost of the direct primary care plan, but any supplemental insurance you might need in order to cover bigger items, such as hospital stays).
Related Article: Direct Primary Care Saves Patients Money
4. Have you selected a doctor from the practice?
Before enrolling with a direct primary care practice, take the time to interview one (or more) doctors. Only enroll with the practice if you find a doctor who is the right fit. Otherwise, continue researching other direct primary care doctors and practices until you find one that is.
5. Have you had a chance to interact with the office staff?
It seems like a little thing, but when you're moving from one medical practice to another, the little things can make a big difference.
Because direct pay healthcare is so "hands on," you'll likely have even more interaction with the practice's support staff (nurses, office staff, and so forth). Yes, your relationship will be with your doctor, but don't dismiss the importance of those "secondary" relationships. Make sure you feel comfortable.
Is direct primary care right for you?