When launching a new practice, the independent physician has a lot of factors to consider. Location, staffing, equipment needs, and office technology are all considerations to take into account with a new practice. When launching a direct care practice, there may also be questions about whether specific licenses are required. The answers to those questions for the direct primary care physician actually vary by state.
Most of the license or permit requirements depend on whether the direct primary care physician will dispense medication in-house. This is a service commonly provided by the direct care practice, in an effort to further help patients save money. According to a recent article published by AAFP, “Twenty-seven states allow physicians to dispense medication without a fee or license. Among states that require a license, the fee ranges between $10 and $300. Montana, Texas, New York and Utah do not allow physicians to dispense medication.”
The direct primary care physician who conducts any types of tests on patients must adhere to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) requirements, including applying for a waiver for conducting basic tests. As outlined by the DPC Frontier, direct care physicians will “need to pay a fee (file for a waiver), … are subject to audits (to make sure you only do waived tests), and … must maintain extensive documentation (regularly updated) to prove compliance.”
There are also, of course, licenses and regulatory requirements typically applicable to the independent physician regardless of the practice model, including the basic medical license and malpractice insurance. The good news is, because DPC doctors have fewer claims than regular physicians, they can receive a nearly 50% discount on the cost of their malpractice insurance. With significantly lower malpractice premiums, DPC physicians can more easily obtain such insurance to protect their practices against potentially damaging lawsuits.
There are currently a number of policies at the state and federal level that that could impact direct care physicians. When launching a new practice, the direct primary care physician should review the legal considerations and understand all of the requirements, including those that may vary depending on the location of the practice.