Posted by: Atlas MD

August 30, 2021

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Approaching Employers About DPC

Transitioning to direct care or starting a new DPC practice can sometimes feel like a daunting task, especially when it comes to acquiring new patients. In a previous blog post, we looked at different ways to attract new patients, including sourcing from your panel if you already worked at a clinic and marketing your clinic digitally if you didn’t. We also briefly looked at pitching to employer groups as a way of filling up your appointment book, and it’s this approach that we’re going to examine in more detail below.

Approaching and partnering with employers in your community can be a mutually beneficial way of providing affordable healthcare for a business group while simultaneously acquiring hundreds of new patients. 

But where are these employers? How do you engage with them, and how do you finalize a contract? Below we take a look at what information you need to know and how you should approach employers in order to demonstrate the benefits and value that DPC provides.

Self-Funded or Fully-Insured

An important factor for determining which employer to approach is knowing whether their health insurance program is self-funded or fully insured.  

Employers that are fully insured contract directly with health insurance companies. They provide their employees with fixed plans that are administered and funded by the insurance company in question. This insulates the company from the expensive healthcare claims of their employees, but it also means they won’t see any savings should their employees not claim anything at all. Because of this, fully insured employers aren’t directly impacted by the monetary savings that direct care provides. Switching their employer healthcare plans to a DPC model would simply save money for the insurance company, which would be burdened with fewer claims.

Self-funded or self-insured companies, on the other hand, pay for most or all of the cost of their employee’s health care. Without third-party insurance, these companies evaluate and pay for the healthcare claims of their employees as they occur, relying on a third-party administrator (TPA) to perform the administrative functions. Each claim comes out of the company’s operating budget, directly affecting its bottom line. Because of this, self-funded companies stand to save a lot of money by switching to a DPC-oriented healthcare model, not only in medical savings but also in lowered employee absenteeism and improved productivity.

As a DPC practitioner, you’re going to have a much easier time engaging with self-funded employers than fully insured ones, for the simple reason that you have a lot more financial value to offer them.

Finding Self-Funded Employers

Now that you’re aware that engaging with self-funded employers is the best course of action for partnering with a company, the next question that arises is: how do I find and contact them?

One of the main predictors of whether or not a company self-funds its healthcare is size. In general, these companies will have more than 200 employees. According to a 2011 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 50% of businesses with more than 200 but less than 1000 employees were self-funded. Of course, this isn’t an absolute rule, but it does give you some general parameters to work with when deciding which companies to approach.

Approaching business leaders within the local community is also a proven method for finding and engaging with self-funded employers. Since DPC is by definition a local enterprise, it makes sense that direct care practices should want to collaborate with local businesses. 

Community business leaders can frequently be found at a city club or chapters of national service clubs like the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. Referral groups like BNI (Business Network International) are also worth pursuing. This type of professional networking is invaluable as it allows you to shake the hands of people running businesses in your community and really demonstrate the value of DPC.

Demonstrating the Value That DPC Provides

As a DPC practitioner, you’re well-aware of the value direct care can bring to the table both in monetary savings and improved patient healthcare. Most employers, however, are in the dark, so it’s up to you to show them what they stand to gain by providing direct primary care to their employees. 

Before pitching a DPC healthcare plan to an employer, it’s important to understand their healthcare needs so that you can adjust your value proposition accordingly. These healthcare needs are generally oriented around three elements:

  • Lowering health care costs
  • Increasing the health of their workforce
  • Providing additional benefits to employees

The first is a no-brainer. With no copay, low monthly fees, and the ability to see patients as frequently as needed at no additional cost, it’s easy to lay bare how DPC can save an employer significant amounts of money. You can also present the following facts to strengthen your case. Companies will:

  • Save significantly on lab testing, imaging, outpatient surgeries, and other non-emergency treatments
  • See a reduction in unnecessary lab testing, imaging, and procedures
  • Provide their employees with affordable specialist consultations
  • Save on average $2,551 savings per employee per year, as found in the 2012 AJMC study on preventative care and reduced hospitalization

In terms of increasing the health of an employer’s workforce, put an emphasis on preventative care and improved health outcomes that ultimately result in fewer sick workers and missed workdays, and a healthy, productive workforce.

And lastly, lay out what employees stand to gain:

  • Greater doctor and clinic accessibility
  • Patients have more time with the doctor
  • Same-day appointments
  • Remote consultations

Understanding marketing and how to reach out to potential patients is part of the job of running a DPC clinic. Luckily, direct care almost sells itself with the value and savings that it provides. All you have to do is get in front of the right employers, lay out the facts and case studies, and show them how much they have to gain.

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