The Best Way Forward For Healthcare Is Actually A Step Back in Time

Reason Magazine
Reason Magazine

Wow. Here's a promising new way for doctors and patients to opt out of the bureaucratic health care system dominated by a cartel of hospital and...


It’s no secret that over the past decade, healthcare costs have absolutely skyrocketed. Especially with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the cost of healthcare has risen steadily for quite some time now, and things don’t appear to be changing any time soon.

The rise in healthcare costs leaves many of us in a financial bind. If our health insurance premiums are $500, $600, $700, etc. a month, it becomes more difficult to pay for the other necessities of life. The high costs of healthcare are creating a lower quality of life as we try to figure out how to navigate through the sea of bills.

There’s clearly a problem here, so what can we do to confront it head on? Or rather, can we just bypass the problem entirely with a new kind of system?

The latter is actually a very realistic option, and many in the medical field are taking advantage of a new sub-industry in the medical field: Direct Primary Care.

What is Direct Primary Care? It’s actually not a brand new idea, but rather a step back in time when patients and doctors enjoyed a close relationship that provided quality care at an affordable cost.

Before the advent of patients traveling to doctor’s offices, doctors actually came to their patients. In this patient-doctor relationship, there was also no health insurance involved; everything was paid for out of pocket.

But how can anyone afford that?? So many things cost thousands of dollars, even routine procedures!

Actually, that’s not entirely the case. Costs for standard medical care have been rising because of the insurance bureaucracy that providers must navigate. But what about the alternative? Consider how the Direct Primary Care Coalition discusses the idea:

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is an innovative alternative payment model improving access to high functioning healthcare with a simple, flat, affordable membership fee. No fee-for-service payments. No third party billing. The defining element of DPC is an enduring and trusting relationship between a patient and his or her primary care provider. Patients have extraordinary access to a physician of their choice, often for as little as $70 per month, and physicians are accountable first and foremost to their patients. DPC is embraced by health policymakers on the left and right and creates happy patients and happy doctors all over the country!

The insurance company is taken out of the equation with this healthcare model. That means there is no insurance billing required by your doctor, so there is less paperwork (a LOT less!). With less paperwork, the need for administrative staff is decreased. With a smaller administrative staff, doctors save costs on their end, and are able to pass those savings directly to their patients.

This idea runs counter to our first thought on healthcare in the 21st century. The notion that we can pay our doctors directly, independent of insurance companies, is a foreign one. However, providers are experimenting with this model, and it is working for patient and doctor.

One may ask, “what about big procedures like major surgery?” Well I’m glad you asked!

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma offers a free-market solution to the issue of high costs for medical care, specifically in the area of special surgery. The Center enables patients to get surgery they need, even without insurance companies paying the bill. Here’s how it works:

It is no secret to anyone that the pricing of surgical services is at the top of the list of problems in our dysfunctional healthcare system. Bureaucracy at the insurance and hospital levels, cost shifting and the absence of free market principles are among the culprits for what has caused surgical care in the United States to be cost prohibitive. As more and more patients find themselves paying more and more out of pocket, it is clear that something must change. We believe that a very different approach is necessary, one involving transparent and direct pricing.Transparent, direct, package pricing means the patient knows exactly what the cost of the service will be upfront.

Their system tells you, the patient, what the price will be. That’s everything, no hidden costs or fees or back billing, anything of the sort. The prices you see on their website is what you pay, end of story!

There’s a certain kind of clarity that this model offers patients. Rather than wondering what the cost of a given procedure will be after the fact, patients can know before and make informed decisions based on truthful and non-misleading information. What else is there to say?

This model is not merely a good alternative to the debacle that is the medical field today, it may be the only viable way to keep medical care available and affordable to everyone.

Comments (2)
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I haven't had experience with it yet, but I'm very strongly considering trying it out. The transparency in pricing and the fact that patients and doctors can actually interact without having the insurance company getting in the way is a really attractive idea.



Have you had any experience with the DPC model? Does this idea appeal to you as a patient? Do you know any providers who've tried this?