Bloomberg Businessweek wants to know what’s in store for our nation’s healthcare future. We are facing a staggering shortage of doctors, along with a growing demand for providers precipitated by Obamacare. In spite of thee challenges, there are doctors and entrepreneurs emerging, people searching for better outcomes. Our direct care operation, Atlas MD, was actually the first practice profiled in Bloomberg’s article. They shared one of our harrowing stories — helping a struggling, uninsured woman address her thyroid issues, and regain her vitality, for $147 instead of ~$1,500 a hospital would have potentially charged her.
Our biggest concern is that we’ll come across as a pyramid scheme when we tell people this story. For $147, we ran labs, diagnosed a problem, and prescribed and dispensed necessary pills. There was no insurance involved, and we even made a bit of money on the transaction.
If you’re not familiar with our model of direct care, check out the first page of Bloomberg Businessweek’s article (less than 3 minutes of reading time).
To clarify, our business model — Insurance-free direct care @ $10-100/mo.—free visits, discounted labs & Rx, 24/7 doctor access (phone/text/email/social media) — is what we call “direct care”. It includes physicals fit for a CEO, but provided at affordable rates. We do not have marble floors or a water fountain in our lobby. There is coffee and tea, but no Courvoisier. It’s just a regular doctor office, without the copious forms and long waits.
Bloomberg, though, like many sources lumps our practice in with something called “concierge medicine.” While there are similarities between two models — both are paid for out-out-pocket — concierge medicine differs in that it offers “premium care” or “added benefits” that are separate from core enrollees. An example might be a traditional practice that accepts insurance, but for an extra $100/month cash payment, allows people to schedule same-day appointments. We want to be careful about this latter case. This in fact validates our opponents who say that “cash-only” medicine creates a two-tiered healthcare system.
Atlas MD and direct care is not about two-tier healthcare. It’s about affordable care, made widely accessible, allowing for primary care doctors to earn substantially larger incomes, so that more med students join the primary care field in coming decades. Primary care doctors are the leading force preventing Type-II diabetes (adult onset), heart disease and obesity. These problems are pandemic to our nation, and cost us billions of dollars every year.
Healthcare is complex. It’s our nation’s largest product in terms of GDP (that’s saying a lot considering what we spend on defense, agriculure, education, etc.). We believe that direct care is a long-term solution, and well worth the time and investment. That’s because it’s outcome is healthier people, with more time to invest in living.
So do you want direct care? Then add your name to our I Want Direct Care Map. And if you really like direct care, then tell a friend, too. The more patients who demand reasonable, affordable care, the more docs who will brave the free market, and offer cutting edge care, without the high prices, long waits, and rushed visits.