Posted by: Atlas MD

October 13, 2021

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Concierge Medicine and Direct Primary Care – What’s the Difference?

Two of the most healthcare prominent models that have emerged over the last few years to challenge the traditional insurance model are concierge medicine and direct primary care. It’s not uncommon for these two terms to be used interchangeably when referring to any sort of membership medicine. But while both models share a number of similarities – namely providing patients with direct access to their doctor – there are also some unique differences.

At their core, both concierge and DPC are membership-based healthcare models that are paid by the patient or the patient’s employer. They both allow patients to spend more time with their doctors, put an emphasis on preventative care, and provide patients with unrestricted access to their physician.

But the models diverge in a number of prominent ways. Concierge medicine – or retainer medicine – is something of a luxury medical service because of its high cost and premium offerings. Patients who enroll with a concierge medicine provider often still have to pay regular health care insurance and are subject to co-pays and deductibles.

Direct primary care, on the other hand, solves the burdens of insurance and overbearing administrators completely. The model allows patients ample time with their doctors and a wide range of physician services for a much lower fee and on a month-to-month basis. Including significant savings on procedures, medicines, and labs that can save more than the cost of the monthly fees.

To really highlight all the differences, we put together this comparison table.

DPCConcierge Medicine
Independent, local business – usually a small, independent clinic with a few physicians.Large, corporate, national network of doctors.
Physicians contract directly with patients and no one else. Middlemen like insurance companies and hospitals are removed.Doctors may also contract with patients, insurance companies, and healthcare corporations, resulting in increased overheads and fees.
Flat, low-cost monthly fee that covers a wide range of physician services.Higher monthly fees billed on a yearly retainer. Insurance may still be billed and co-pays and deductibles may apply.
Focus is on accessible, versatile, and low-cost healthcare.Less emphasis on specific value-added features.
After-hours access by text and phone.After-hours access by text and phone.
Same day and next day service scheduling.Same day and next day service scheduling.
Prices with labs are negotiated to pass on the best possible prices to patients.Additional services are offered at rates negotiated with insurance companies.
No long-term membership contracts.Annual contracts required.
Monthly fees of on average between $50 and $110 for individuals. An average of $75 per employee per month for businesses.Annual fee of at least $2500.
Specialist consultations are included through services like Atlas Consult.Access to specialists is charged separately. 

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