The direct primary care (DPC) practice is growing in popularity. Independent physicians enjoy the flexibility and the attention they are able to give each patient. They also generally have less of an administrative burden as their practice is based on patient membership fees rather than insurance reimbursement. Patients enjoy the structure as well, as they have more access to their physician and their membership fees are often less than insurance premiums would be.
As an independent physician, you may be considering the transition to a DPC model. How do you know if it is right for your practice?
The first consideration is whether your practice can sustain itself through the process. As described in a recent article in Business Insider, when the independent physician moves the practice to the DPC model, it “often means ditching the reliability of a salary.” However, as the practice becomes established as a DPC, “the more patients who sign on, the more money that can be made.”
Another consideration when deciding if the direct care model is right for your practice is whether your patients will be willing to switch to the somewhat non-traditional payment structure. Although a full range of primary care services is generally covered under their membership fee, patients also need some form of insurance to cover expenses for additional tests or procedures.
Currently, the IRS has determined that DPC patients are ineligible for health savings accounts (HSAs). Patients “can’t use the funds from an HSA, flexible savings account, or Medicare savings account to pay their monthly membership bills, explains Business Insider. Your patients will need to understand their options and restrictions in regard to your new practice structure.
There are many resources available to you as an independent physician, to determine if the direct care model is right for your practice and to help you manage a DPC practice effectively. Elation Health has published the Direct Care Playbook, written just for independent physicians who want to learn more about the DPC model. The playbook includes sections on marketing and legal issues, as well as tips on optimizing your DPC practice for success.