Direct Primary Care (DPC): What is it?
Updated: May 29
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a healthcare model focused on putting the patient first. That means treating them when they need it, never rushing patients through appointments and being proactive with healthcare treatment plans. The doctor patient relationship is just as the name suggests -- direct. DPC clinics don't accept insurance, rather they choose to work directly with the patient, providing wholesale prescriptions and labs, and other cost savings along the way. DPC allows independent physicians to provide high quality care to a small number of patients, thereby ensuring that each patient’s needs are being met with as much attention and care as possible. The three doctors that created the DPC model wanted their patients to know what to expect — in terms of cost — at the beginning of treatment, not the end. As healthcare costs have increased in the United States, so has the transparency in what it truly costs by the end of treatment.
It’s no secret health care is becoming increasingly expensive with each passing year. In 1960, the average amount of money that an American spent on healthcare annually totaled $146 — in 2017, it reached $10,739 per person. While increased costs in other industries over a similar time period can be chalked up to inflation, healthcare costs have climbed much faster than the average annual income in the U.S., with healthcare accounting for 6 percent of an individual’s income in 2013, as compared to 4 percent in 1960. Patients are struggling with these increases, and as a result, a new form of healthcare has taken shape in the 21st century that gives back the power of choice to consumers — often at a lower cost.
You’re likely asking yourself why healthcare has become so expensive in the United States in the last half century. There’s no easy answer to this question, but a JAMA study identified five key factors that have majorly contributed to the rising costs over the years. Medical service utilization, service price & intensity, disease prevalence or incidence, population growth and population aging are the primary contributors to this phenomenon, with service price and intensity — specifically the skyrocketing prices of pharmaceutical drugs — accounting for more than 50 percent of the increase over the past few decades. While DPC doesn’t remedy all of these factors, it cuts the bureaucracy out and any unnecessary costs that come with it.
As prices continue to soar, and healthcare professionals continue to be overworked, consider the DPC model as an alternative. Numerous practices continue to pop up across the United States, making the service more and more accessible as time goes on. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our practice for more information about DPC so you can figure out if it is the right service for you!