What is direct primary care?
Think back to last time you didn't feel well. Not awful, but not good. Maybe you you felt a funny lil’ twinge in your lower back or in your knees. Perhaps you cut yourself while cooking dinner, and you had a feeling that it might need stitches.
Did you immediately make a doctor’s appointment?
Maybe. But probably not. Too much hassle, right? It’ll probably go away on its own. But really you just don’t want to have to deal with the never-ending process of doctor’s offices, referrals, and tests.
Listen, we get it. Sometimes the risks of seeking care (both to your wallet and your schedule) can seem to outweigh the rewards — even if that reward is, you know, feeling better.
And you’re not alone. For 44% of Americans, the cost of treating a sickness or injury is a bigger cause for fear than the ailment itself. The fear of accruing massive medical bills keeps them from seeking recommended or necessary medical attention, even with insurance.
But these seemingly surface-level injuries or illnesses can lead to serious health problems down the road, which can end up costing both employee and employer more money in the long run.
Direct primary care cuts out the go-between, so you can work directly with a primary care physician. There’s no need for insurance companies to approve treatment or care — it’s kind of the “one stop shop” of healthcare. Through these plans, your employees can have access to an assortment of services without additional payment: treatment plans, doctor’s office visits, tests/exams, consultations, virtual access, and more.
How do employees use direct primary care?
Let’s say one of your team has a nagging headache with no explanation, or they’ve been nauseated for several days with no change in diet. Instead of waiting ages for an appointment or worrying about their copay, your employee can use their direct primary care plan to schedule a same-day doctor’s visit, get their questions answered quickly, and resume their day-to-day to-dos, without being nickeled and dimed (or worse, being met with a surprise bill.)
How does access to direct primary care impact employees?
Okay, next question: the last time you were at the doctor’s office, how much face-to-face time did you actually spend with the doctor or nurse? Five minutes, maybe ten minutes total? You probably spent far more time in the waiting room flipping through a magazine or sitting in a drafty gown than you did with the doc. (That doesn’t even include the days or weeks you had to wait for the appointment in the first place.)
But with these plans, your employees get more time with their primary care physician. That's because direct primary care doctors generally have fewer patients, which gives them the time and resources to hear patients out and give them the attention they deserve.
They’ll also get their appointments scheduled sooner — in some cases, even on the same day. Many direct primary care providers even offer telehealth services, so your employees can “visit” their doctor via phone, email, or video chat. This saves tons of valuable time and can help alleviate that all-too-familiar doctors-office stress.
Some of your employees may not already have a primary care provider. These days, our healthcare can be piece-mealed together and done on the fly. But having a primary care provider has been proven to encourage preventative care and often leads to higher quality care.
Sometimes the pain that takes you to the doctor has nothin’ on the pain of receiving the bill afterwards. 63% of employees say that cost is the main reason they were unhappy with their current health plan. Totally understandable right? Nobody wants to pay out the nose just to leave unsatisfied with the care they received. But with direct primary care plans, your employees will pay only for access to this benefit, which will be the same flat fee each month.
Why should employers offer direct primary care?
As they say, “Health is wealth.” When employees are able to take better care of themselves, they’re not only healthier — they’re happier. They also may be be less likely to take time away from work for health-related reasons.
But cost isn’t just an issue for employees. Healthcare is a major expense for employers, but direct primary care plans can save employers up to 20% on healthcare costs.
By helping make affordable preventative healthcare more accessible for your employees, you show them that you value their time (both on and off the clock) as well as their health — while also tending to your business' bottom line.
And if you build it, they will come: A recent survey showed that 83% of employees were intrigued by the idea of an employer-sponsored direct primary care plan.