More Physicians Choose to Offer Direct Primary Care in the Age of Obamacare
S.1989, a bill unveiled by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in August of 2015 tackles direct primary care (DPC). Now, the bill is finally gaining support, mostly due to groups that focus on offering individuals and employers direct access to health care without the help of insurance providers, news outlets are beginning to pay attention.
Direct primary care, or DPC, is beginning to grow in popularity. To many in the industry, that’s mainly thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Medical practices that subscribe to the DPC model work by giving individuals access to care for a low monthly payment. These clinics don’t have to rely on insurance companies to pay their bills. Instead, they give individual participants the chance to ditch insurance plans they cannot afford.
Direct pay, it turns out, is the best way to have access to quality health care in the age of Obamacare.
According to the Direct Primary Care Coalition, S.1989 clarifies that DPC is a medical service, not a health care plan. If the bill eventually passes into law, it would allow individuals to claim DPC expenses as health expenses under section 213 (d) of the tax code. This bill would also allow individuals with a Health Savings Account (HSA) to use DPC as well. If it passes, individuals with high deductible health insurance plans would be allowed to use their HSAs to pay for DPC services.
Medicare recipients who prefer to use their access to the program to cover for DPC expenses may also benefit if the law passes as is.
To doctors like Trinette Moss from Florida, direct primary care is a system that makes sense. Not just because it gives low-income people access to quality care, but also because it makes sense to the physicians involved.
At her family practice, Dr. Moss charges $60 a month to patients who are between 18 and 49 years old. Parents pay an additional $15 a month to add a child to their plan.
The low monthly payment gives individuals access to unlimited office visits, urgent care services, and one annual physical.
To Dr. Moss, the system helps her to know her patients better. It also helps her to keep her practice small.
With enough clients to cover her expenses, Dr. Moss doesn’t have to hire someone to file and track insurance claims. The system also keeps Dr. Moss from having to fight insurance companies that deny claims or delay payments for a number of months.
Since ACA became the law of the land in 2010, the number of DPC practices went from 20 to more than 400 nationwide. Much like concierge medicine, DPC practices like Moss’s give patients personalized care. To many struggling Americans, access to care is still scarce. With the meddling ACA added to health law, insurance plans are becoming less affordable. Without the means, low-income earners prefer to pay directly to physicians instead of relying on plans that make it impossible for them to stay healthy. But while Washington debates on whether it will focus on DPC or not at the federal level, states begin to act on their own.
In Florida, lawmakers are considering a proposal designed to keep DPC practices from experiencing difficulties due to state insurance laws. If HB37/SB132 passes, proponents argue, more doctors may begin to use this system, contracting directly with individual patients.
To Tim Stapleton of Florida’s Doctors Association, a proponent of HB37, allowing practices to offer primary care directly without the involvement of insurance companies is very feasible. The method “is a cost-efficient way for physicians to deliver care, and it’s affordable for patients,” he told Tampa Bay Time. Making the practice more widely available would help low-income earners in the long run.
Will lawmakers listen or will they fight to keep physicians from embracing direct primary care?