Back in the day, primary medical care involved only the independent physician and the patient. In the early 20th century, however, the concept of health insurance was formed as part of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential platform. Today, primary care physicians are tasked with securing prior approval, billing, and awaiting reimbursements from insurance companies as a part of their daily practice management.
Direct primary care (DPC) is a relatively new concept that actually takes independent physicians back to those days of dealing directly with patients for payment as well as treatment. Based on patient membership fees that cover most basic services, the DPC model bypasses insurance companies almost completely.
One DPC “trailblazer,” Dr. Paula J. Frantz had participated in the fee-for-service traditional primary care practice for several years before deciding she needed to be able to spend more time with her patients and less time dealing with insurance companies. She launched her DPC practice in 2016, “on a mission to change the way people view health care by taking a trip back in time to re-visit a concept grounded in our collective medical history.”
The growth of the innovative DPC model is changing the way independent physicians and their patients think about healthcare, by eliminating the middle man of the insurance companies and returning to the original concept of the doctor-patient relationship. Complicated payments and reimbursements do not exist in a DPC practice. Instead, the patient pays a regular monthly fee directly to the physician’s office.
In return, the physician is able to spend more time with the patient during each visit and is generally more available for communications before and after the visit. Dr. Frantz’s patient visits can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Most visits in a traditional practice are limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In the DPC practice, there is less emphasis on the volume of patients and more emphasis on the quality of patient care, which benefits physician and patient.