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Tips for fitting direct primary care into an employer benefit plan

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Direct primary care (DPC) as an employer benefit is a relatively new concept. Employers typically offer traditional healthcare coverage, either fully covered or at a subsidized rate, for employees and their families. With the rise of the DPC model, though, there are a number of ways to fit DPC into an employer benefit plan.

More employers are offering high-deductible health insurance plans that are less expensive, in terms of monthly premiums, for both the employee and the employer. With these plans, though, employees pay more out of pocket for basic primary care services. To save money, they may use their healthcare plan primarily for necessary or catastrophic care.

The DPC Journal reports that “many of the estimated 30 million people who gained insurance coverage last year (2015) under healthcare reform do not have a primary health care physician or do not use one.” The DPC option gives employees access to primary care services with more focus on the patient-provider relationship, for a membership fee that is usually less than the cost of healthcare premiums.

Employers who opt to offer their employees the DPC plan can:

  • Cover the cost of the membership fees for employees just as they would provide the subsidized portion of healthcare premiums
  • Offer employees an allowance that can be used for DPC membership or for another plan of the employee’s choosing
  • Provide a hybrid of available plans, with a DPC option combined with a high deductible plan for catastrophic coverage.

DPC practices are becoming more popular, as patients enjoy more direct communication with their primary care physician and the cost savings that accompany a smaller membership fee rather than a monthly insurance premium. Employers who find a way to fit direct primary care into their benefit plan may find that the unique model is more attractive in recruiting potential employees and retaining current employees.