We live in an à la carte society, where everything from entertainment to clothing is available by subscription. Now, in many places, you can add subscription medical to your list of monthly services. Maybe, to borrow a phrase from the cable industry, it’s time to cut the cord on your traditional health insurance carrier.
Though the idea has been around for a while, it’s only recently that subscription medical has really taken off. Also known as ‘direct primary care’ or ‘membership medicine,’ subscription medical isn’t the same as its posher-sounding cousin ‘concierge medicine.’
Industry experts define it as “a newer type of primary-care medical practice that doesn’t accept health insurance. Instead, member patients pay a subscription fee, typically on a monthly basis. The Direct Primary Care Coalition says the model cuts overhead and allows patients to see physicians for longer appointments, which can be scheduled more easily and frequently than at a conventional practice.”
The difference between this and concierge medicine is that they charge a monthly fee as well but then bill your medical insurance on your behalf. With direct primary care, it’s just you and the doctor without a middle-man or complicated insurance red-tape.
Health and wellness issues are stressful enough without having to wade through the tangle of preauthorization, Explanation of Benefits forms, waiting periods, maximums, and acceptable network providers. With subscription medical, you simply pay the doctor directly for needed services.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get top quality service, either. Research shows that these “physicians…spend 35 minutes, on average, with each patient versus 8 minutes in traditional care, and a whopping 140 minutes per year versus just 20 minutes in mainstream medicine. As a result, studies have found that direct primary care members were 65% less likely to visit an emergency room, 35% less likely to require hospitalization, and enjoyed lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as reduced risk of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks than traditional patients.”
Many doctors also enjoy this new, simpler approach. A recent Physicians Foundation survey reported that “U.S. physicians continue to struggle to maintain morale levels, adapt to changing delivery and payment models, and provide patients with reasonable access to care. The combination of these factors leaves a majority of physicians feeling that they lack time to provide the highest level of care.”
By utilizing the subscription medical format, they have a reliable monthly source of income and can set their own schedules, patient load, and specific services offered.
Even businesses can participate in programs like these. By reducing overall paperwork and confusion, their financial contribution to employee healthcare goes a long way. In conjunction with outpatient centers like Longview’s Pacific Surgical Center (PSC), where all prices are transparent and clearly posted, costs are kept low and dollars stretch much further.
Because this is a new—though growing—field, many subscription medical clients still have outside insurance in case of catastrophic illness or injury. Unpaid medical bills are the number one source of personal bankruptcy and in-patient surgery is very expensive. But by pairing subscription medical with a high deductible insurance plan can balance quality care with reasonable monthly premiums.
Whatever kind of coverage you have, it’s always good to shop around. At PSC, their surgeons work with your healthcare team to determine how best to conquer troublesome orthopedic, urology, gastroenterology, podiatry, and general surgery needs. They’ll then craft an estimate using transparency pricing guidelines which include the facility fee, surgeon’s fee, and anesthesiologist’s fee.
That, combined with the ease of an on-site lab and MRI clinic, means fewer days missing work and a quicker post-operative recovery.
Trend-spotters agree that “membership medicine works because it delivers tangible benefits to both parties that build over time…In this era of sky-high deductibles, many people avoid doctor visits because they can’t afford to pay out of pocket. They may put off going until they absolutely have to and end up getting sicker as a result. But for just $35 to $100 a month, patients in a subscription-based practice can see their doctor as often as they wish. And not just when they’re sick. They can go regularly and prevent getting sick in the first place.”
There’s something familiar and comforting about having an insurance ID card in your wallet. But what if there was a new path that kept you healthier, was simpler to use and understand, and cost less? Subscription medical may be the way to go. Then give PSC a call at 360-442.7900 to get back on your feet again.