Today, medical bills have become so complex that some healthcare providers distribute information to help patients "interpret" their bill. The first thing most patients see when they review their bill is the "PAY THIS AMOUNT:" total followed by shock, dismay, fear, and grief. The explanation is intended to provide "clarity" so that when the initial shock wears off, the patient feels defeated and consigned to pay those impressive charges...even when they went in for a simple sinus infection, received 5 minutes of physician time, a shot, and a prescription. I am certain most of my readers at some point have felt these same emotions. With that in mind, I want to share a real medical bill with you and provide a side-by-side comparison.
The following is a sample of a real medical bill that a patient shared with me recently from a trip to a traditional insurance-focused medical clinic:
Just the lab alone represents a 2000% markup over our actual direct primary care prices!! Now you may be thinking, "But Doc, you're not including your monthly membership fee, which would amount to $780 a year, so actually you're more expensive." Comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges is always important if you want to remain credible in the public eye. A member in my clinic gets a free annual lab work benefit, which would have included the lipid panel, comprehensive metabolic panel, TSH, and complete blood count. The EKG would remain free. That would have made a year's membership with all this blood work and EKG cost $786. However, our patient would also have received substantially more time with the physician, 30 minutes up to 1 hour. Furthermore, our patient will receive unlimited visits and cell phone access to our doctor throughout the year. Now consider that the AVERAGE patient in a traditional clinic will request a little over 3 visits a year, the true costs come more into focus. The patient of a traditional office may end up with at least 3 bills ranging from $200 to $600 (or more) in a year. The DPC patient remains at $780 + $60 (the average cost of all other services, lab, and medications not covered by the membership), or around $840 per year. With insurance deductibles now commonly as high as $1000 or more, even a patient with insurance should strongly consider the direct primary care alternative, if not just for the savings but also the overall better care it provides. Of course, don’t forget that Face Value Health offers a fee-for-service visit for patients who only occasionally need to see a physician (i.e. an annual physical or a sinus infection), so if you only need to see a doctor 1 or 2 times a year, your costs may be substantially less.
When it comes to effective primary care, follow up is critical. As a physician, my greatest concern is that a patient will not respond or fail to improve with a treatment plan. But most patients in the traditional system face another high office visit charge just for that privilege, so it should come as no surprise when they most often avoid returning. Direct primary care eliminates that problem by removing the financial barriers to follow up and actually even encourages it.
Direct primary care also provides substantial savings on medications. Let’s look again at a real bill from my office comparing it to mail-order prices, which are usually less than retail prices:
Getting your medications from your doctor provides enormous benefits: Your doctor can better figure out the right combination of medications to control your blood pressure or diabetes for instance. You don’t end up with a bunch of expensive pills that get wasted because you couldn’t tolerate the side effects. He or she can help you stay on track by supporting you with routine maintenance of certain medications and even make adjustments when things change. Finally, you save time, a commodity that you can’t replace, but not having to make yet another trip with another wait to get your medications. Now let me make this clear: Our local pharmacies still have their place and many pharmacists go to work every day with your best intentions in mind. But as the small local mom-and-pop pharmacies disappear in favor of large corporate structures that increasingly are merging with large insurance companies, pharmacists (just like doctors) will find it harder to provide the service they desire to give due to corporate pressure. Today's pharmacists spend an inordinate amount of their time attempting to comply with burdensome, onerous insurance coverage regulations. Like doctors, they are being required to do more and more for the same pay too. DPC can keep the system honest while giving you cutting-edge service right now.
Face Value Health DPC, located in Ridgeland, Mississippi, is providing this high quality care at an exceptional value in the Jackson Metro area today. Become a patient to experience a different, better approach to primary care.