Direct primary care (DPC) can be beneficial to individual patients who want to reduce their healthcare costs while receiving quality primary care services. DPCs operate on membership fees so there is no middleman in the form of an insurance company. The DPC physician has been compared to the “old-fashioned” family doctor who develops a relationship with patients, understanding their medical needs, and being available for questions and clarifications outside the office visit.
DPC has also been shown to be effective as an employer sponsored health plan. Employers who are searching for ways to reduce their costs have found the DPC model to offer cost savings as well as a number of heath benefits for their employees.
Likewise, local government can see the same benefits of a DPC arrangement for employees. One of the best examples of county employees being offered a DPC as a health benefit option is in Union County, North Carolina. The county began offering a DPC option to their employees in 2015. The employees’ other option is a traditional health insurance plan with a reimbursement account.
Statistics from 2018 demonstrate that the DPC option has been a success for employees as well as the county government. Jordan Roberts, a Health Care Policy Analyst, found that those Union County employees who opted for the DPC healthcare have cost the county 26 percent less per member per month than those covered by traditional health insurance.
Of those county employees participating in the DPC option, “99 percent of participants reported a positive overall experience, 99 percent of participants reported high satisfaction with provider access, and 97 percent of participants reported a high level of trust in the care they received.”
Additional measures of DPC benefits for local governments include the employees’ opinion of their employer. Roberts notes that “77 percent of employees said that their opinion of their employer had improved since Union County offered a DPC option.”
The county employees who opted for DPC coverage felt that they spent more time, almost double in fact, with their DPC physician than they had with their traditional primary care physician. One of the advantages of the DPC model is the fact that the DPC physician typically has a smaller patient panel and is more focused on developing a relationship with each patient. The majority of the Union County employees also reported that they felt their health had improved since taking advantage of the DPC option offered to them by their local government employer.