Rethinking Primary Care
"$2000 for 5 stitches in my thumb!!!" My friend couldn't believe his ER bill was so high, even with his insurance. We were sitting at their kitchen table, removing said stitches to avoid an additional $78 for his PCP to remove them. And if a friend can't help remove your stitches while listening to your frustrations, then what is a friend for?
Unfortunately, we all have these stories. Whether it was your own unexpected medical bill, a friend or a family member's, they're far too common. As a physician, I'm not immune from this either! Earlier this year we were shocked when a visit for my husband came back as a $400 bill (full disclosure, we have a high deductible plan).
As a patient and a physician, I believe we can do better. Removing insurance from primary care takes medicine back to focusing on the patient-physician relationship. Why can't everyone have someone that'll sit at their kitchen table removing stitches and listening to their frustrations? For an affordable monthly fee, I'll take care of you. Period. Isn't transparency great!! Let's look at an example. My friend from above, he would pay $65/month. That would have included all his visits, and even his stitches!! Now I don't currently, nor ever expect, to own a MRI machine or operate my own fully functioning emergency room or hospital - so there are times when insurance comes in to play. But just like car insurance, use it only for the big things like a car accident or significant hail damage. Insurance isn't meant for the small stuff like oil changes, general maintenance or even minor fender benders that are less than your deductible. Insurance is to insure you won't go in to financial ruin if catastrophe hits. While strep throat may feel like the end of the world to some, it's not a catastrophe.
While I hope my friend doesn't need stitches on a frequent basis, that one kitchen accident would have covered 2.5 YEARS at our clinic. And what does happen in 2.5 years of time is at least two annual visits with a real discussion about preventing disease and optimizing health, a handful of acute illnesses, questions about over-the-counter medications, 4-8 visits for a chronic illness like blood pressure, and yes, possibly another injury. Not to mention, in those 2.5 years those visits would be same or next-day and include texting/calling/emailing his doctor too.
So if you're like me, and think we can do better, check out our FAQs for the clinic on our website. Schedule a meet-and-greet. Give me a call or just shoot me an email. 2017 is almost here and with it comes a revolutionary new family medicine clinic in Dallas. We're ready to make the shift, are you? Paradigm Family Health opens January 2nd, 2017.