Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Maine Doctors Choosing Direct Pay Model

From Maine Public Radio: "Awash in Paperwork, Maine Doctors Abandon Conventional Treatment Model".

More real-world experience shows how direct-pay medicine benefits both patients and physicians alike.  From the piece:
[Family physician Dr. Catherine] Krouse says the way health care has evolved, patients often come second to the other demands on doctors:  Filling out reimbursement forms. Calling insurance companies to battle for claims. Reviewing and signing off on stacks of patient paperwork.

"You just end up getting drained and drained and drained," Krouse says. "And then when your cup is completely empty, then you just get guarded and angry. And then you put up walls, and that really creates barriers."

So Krouse decided to set up a direct primary care practice. Earlier this month she opened Lotus Family Practice in Falmouth. She doesn't accept insurance. Instead, she charges patients a monthly membership fee. "So it's very direct. It's just patients and doctors. There's no one else in between."
Membership is $60 a month for adults, $20 for kids. It covers an unlimited number of visits, which last about 45 minutes. Patients can also call or text Krouse any time they want. She also provides generic drugs at wholesale cost. Those savings alone, she says, can cover the cost of membership. "Pennies. They cost pennies."
The article goes into more detail on how this helps physicians spend more time with patients and get to the root of their health problems.  Plus patients need fewer referrals to specialists.

In summary:
The direct primary care model, [Krouse] says, allows her to move beyond just treating illness to focusing on health, well being, and the individual patient. And that's the kind of doctor that Krouse has always wanted to be.
(Article link via Dr. Megan Edison and Dr. Matthew Bowdish.)