The direct care and concierge care models may not be the right fit for all patients. These practice models differ from each other as well as from traditional primary care practices. Typically, the direct care practice offers basic services for a monthly membership fee of between $50 and $100. Concierge care is a bit more expensive and offers more personalized services for its patients. Certain types of patients might benefit more from participating in each of these primary care practices than in the traditional model.
The direct care model is growing in the US, with almost 900 practices now providing quality healthcare to patients. Direct care physicians focus on their relationships with their patients, getting to know them and their needs and preferences through direct interactions during the visit as well as outside normal operating hours. Direct care physicians have been known to make house calls and make themselves available to communication from patients via electronic modes and direct calls.
Patients who desire this type of personal medical service will benefit from either direct care or concierge care. Those who tend to need more primary care services, perhaps because of a chronic or complex condition, will also benefit from participating in a direct care practice. Basic primary care services, including x-rays and some laboratory tests, are covered under the monthly membership fee. Many direct care practices also offer reduced costs for prescriptions and wellness services.
Most direct care physicians do not accept insurance but do encourage patients to carry high-deductible insurance for services not covered, such as hospital admissions. For patients who already have high-deductible insurance plans, enrolling in a direct care or concierge care practice will benefit them financially. Older patients, especially, may see significant cost savings. A survey conducted by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective found that “people age 50 and older make up an increasing share of patients at most concierge practices.”
Consumer Reports states that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Three-quarters of those with employer insurance have co-pays (out-of-pocket fees per office visit) for primary care that average $25, and one-quarter have co-insurance (a fee based on a percentage of cost of a visit), which averages 19 percent. And 81 percent have deductibles that average $1,500 before insurance kicks in.”
Patients who visit the primary care physician often and who are concerned with the costs of their healthcare coverage will certainly benefit from the direct care and concierge care structure, both in terms of financial savings as well as healthcare outcomes.