Think Membership Based Primary Care is Only Available to a Select Few? Think Again and Follow these Tips to Make it Affordable for You.
Membership based primary care, sometimes referred to as Concierge Medicine, represents a return to patient-focused primary care. Gone are the long waits to see your doctor, inability to reach them when you are sick, and endless paperwork and administrative hassles associated with private or governmental health care insurance. Instead, doctors have time to develop a long-term personal relationship with you, so that they get to know you and understand your personal health care needs. Through membership based primary care, your physician is available when you need them the most.
Because of the direct membership model, physicians are able to reduce the administrative burden of their practice. They can then spend that time focusing on what really matters- interacting with patients, understanding patient needs, and providing a personalized health care experience. For many, this model of health care may sound too good or too expensive to be true. However, with an understanding of the model and tips on affordability, you may find it is the right option for you.
Membership based primary care offers membership in a physician practice generally for a monthly or annual membership fee.
- An extended visit, with sixty minutes or more of direct time with your physician
- Same day sick visits
- Direct physician access via phone or email
- Electronic visits
- Discount on other health care services such as labs and medications
- Additional member services like anti-aging, overall wellness and stress reduction, weight loss and more
Curious on how to get started?
Here are some tips to consider in making a membership in a primary care practice an affordable option for you. Consider a high deductible insurance plan. You will still need insurance with a primary care membership, but the insurance will be used to protect you against large unexpected health care expenses that may come with severe illness or accidents. Because your primary care membership covers your annual physical, ongoing maintenance care, and routine sick visits, you can save your health insurance in the event of an unexpected severe illness or injury. As a result, these high deductible health plans can offer considerable savings on your monthly premium, while still providing you the coverage you need in case of a large unexpected health care expense.
Use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Healthcare Spending Account (HSA). These plans are tax advantageous ways to set aside money for your health care needs (qualified health care expenses). Specifically, these plans allow patients with health insurance to pay for eligible health care expenses using tax favorable dollars.
Check with your health plan administrator to see what qualifies as an eligible health care expense. In a direct primary care model, the portion of your fees allocated to your direct health care, such as your annual physical, be covered under your health care spending accounts as eligible health care expenses, allowing you to use your pre-tax (or your employers matched contributions) dollars towards your health care experience!
Look for practice incentives, which are often provided to patients for things like additional family members, children and referrals.
Look for other savings opportunities that may exist within a direct primary care model. As an example, some practices may offer lab tests, or medication prescriptions at a drastic discount compared to retail pricing. Even for those with insurance, the direct pricing can be substantially less than the cost of your deductible! These savings may further offset the cost of your membership.
In a world where health care costs are rising annually often by 5% or more, alternative practice models such as direct primary care are gaining popularity. First and foremost, these models are designed to improve the patient experience and provide a higher level of health care through a personal touch and enhanced access to your physician. With a proper strategy, these models can be cost effective and may even save you money over more traditional insurance-based structures.