DPC: the original tele-health provider!
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, and third party payers (government and insurance) being forced to pay physicians for tele-health services out of necessity, DPC practices had instituted these for years. Why? Because DPC practices are not beholden to third party rules for payment. Prior to the pandemic, in third party payer circles, there was a saying about “the tyranny of the clinic visit”! Why? Because third party payers mandated that you see a physician (or other medical provider) in person for them to be paid by Medicare, Anthem, etc. So you had to miss school, work, find a ride, find a babysitter, etc. for every appointment so the doctor could get paid. DPC doesn’t have those restrictions, so you can enjoy texting, e-mailing, calling or video-conferencing your doctor when medically practical.
But technology has improved so much, and the pandemic has changed that for regular doctors, right?
Technology has definitely advanced, and the pandemic has changed tele-health options for regular third party reimbursed practices, sort of… Dr. Dan made the switch to DPC in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, so he’s lived both worlds. Regular clinics still have to go through significant documentation hassles to be reimbursed whether by phone, video, or in-person. And, although tele-health payments now exist, two perverse incentives have been created:
- Regular doctors are still paid more to see you in person than by tele-health. So, yeah, you’ll be encouraged to make an in person appointment.
- The vast majority of third party (government and insurance) practices are fee for service, even for tele-health. What does that mean? You are charged for every phone and video appointment!
Regular (fee-for-service) providers (including midlevels like NPs and PAs) are now starting to charge co-pays to answer your email questions and concerns!
This article, “For doctors drowning in emails, one health system’s new strategy: pay for replies“, shares how the University of California in San Francisco is starting to charge patients a co-pay per email! So, you forgot that one question during your clinic visit. No problem, just send an email through the patient portal… except, that will be $5 to $10 extra per email. Quick, convenient, and expensive! Not too much of a stretch to get to a $30 to $50 email conversation by going back and forth. And don’t be confused, this is not a tele-health visit! It’s really just an answer to your email; a tele-health visit would cost you more! At Forest DPC, you can email me as often as you like, it’s all included in your monthly membership.
DPC does it right!
So not only has DPC pioneered tele-health platforms, we continue to offer unparalleled access to your board-certified Family Medicine physician in a variety of ways, without additional costs, that save you time and money, like lost wages from time away from work or hiring a babysitter, as all these tele-health visits and emails are part of your membership.