It’s The Chicken Or The Egg Again. Will Direct Care Expand Proportionately To Demand For Preventative Care?

The president’s signature legislation aims to provide every American with affordable health insurance options, but there’s been an increase in doctors becoming direct pay or cash-only practices recently.

“There’s no doubt that one of the driving forces behind direct-pay practices is frustration and anger with health care among physicians,” says Michael Smith, medical director and chief medical editor at WebMD. “More and more doctors feel they are ready to quit the system and start practicing off the grid.”

But what about patient demand for preventative care? Something that fee-for-service medicine DOES NOT ENCOURAGE — and that Direct Care thrives on.

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Sean Hannity’s Realistic Healthcare Solutions Include Atlas MD-Style Direct Care

On March 25, 2010, President Barack Obama said, “From this day forward, all of the cynics, all the naysayers — they’re going to have to confront the reality of what this reform is and what it isn’t. They’ll have to finally acknowledge this isn’t a government takeover of our healthcare system. They’ll see that if Americans like their doctor, they’ll be keeping their doctor. You like your plan? You’ll be keeping your plan. No one is taking that away from you.”

Unfortunately, Obama’s PREDICTION is not the REALITY. And it’s not just our opinion, but Sean Hannity’s too, that maybe we should put less emphasis on “the plan” and in turn, less emphasis on government. Hannity is even going so far as to cite our direct care model in his vision of an American healthcare solution.

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Fox News Asks, Is This The Worst ObamaCare ‘Glitch’ Yet?

Fox News interviewed the mother of a family of five who lost their insurance. They now face “uncertainty” thanks to endless glitches on the Obamacare website. For years they elected to carry a high deductible, low cost insurance plan i.e. the type we encourage our patients to buy. According to Obama they’ve been “underinsured” though.

Their philosophy on healthcare mirrors our outlook. They’ve been paying for minor issues out of pocket for years and putting aside the the money they save on their deductible. They didn’t mention direct care, but this family would benefit greatly from an Atlas MD-style of medicine. All seven members could see Drs. Josh, Doug or Michael ANYTIME for $150/mo. Colds, flus, sprains and more could all be treated in-house, at rates much lower than average clinic costs, saving them countless dollars over the course of a year.

This new layer of ACA red tape seems problematic. Really, should the government have the right to determine HOW MUCH insurance people need? We’re not opposed to them prosecuting companies practicing unethical business; there are insurance plans on the market that willfully misrepresent their offering (Forbes wrote about these junk plans here). However, this family in question was TAKING CARE OF THEMSELVES WITH THEIR OWN MONEY. The fact our administration is willing to actually throw them under the bus in order to help those in need disappoints us. And unless the ACA starts actually helping people get healthcare this sentiment seems likely to spread.

Red Tape Puts Insured Californians in a Bind

Fox News conducted a hard interview with a doctor in California. All things considered, we’re aware of the network’s general political leanings, and we’re not politicians at Atlas MD (we’re doctors). However, it’s very difficult to argue with the fact that paying subscribers have been kicked off of existing plans in California, and forced into Obamacare programs. Regardless of whether one plan is better than the other, one thing has been eliminated, and that’s the power of choice.

Had we been invited to the program we might have added that the insurance doesn’t guarantee quality care. Quality care is something that takes time and experience. The more fee-for-service doctors deal with insurance to get paid, the less medicine they actually practice. In a perfect world, there’d be MORE doctors, not more red tape. Ironically, as we add more bureaucratic influence, albeit well intentioned, we run the risk of running doctors out of medicine entirely.

Sadly, the government imagines medicine like this — insure everyone, problem solved. But what happens when all the doctors are occupied, and there’s no one to see all these insured patients?

Want to Help Direct Care? Share this Video.

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In case you missed it, Dr. Josh was invited to speak on Fox News’ Your World. It makes a great companion to Doug’s appearance on Huckabee earlier this year.

It’s challenging to get your message across in one TV segment. However, this is a great place to start spreading the idea of direct care. Friends, family, colleagues, etc. are most likely frustrated with the current way they are receiving or administering healthcare, whether it be the pressure of paying monthly premiums, frustrations with finding docs within their network, the inevitable waits that are attached to any interaction, or traditional docs creating 3 minutes of admin work for every minute they treat patients.

If you think someone could benefit from direct care (patient or doctor) tweet this video. If they have questions, be prepared to address them.

Here are a few points that weren’t directly addressed in the video:
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UPDATE: Are Doctors Responsible For Cutting Healthcare Costs?

UPDATE: Are Doctors Responsible For Cutting Healthcare Costs?

We had a quick update on the survey asking doctors to gauge their responsibility in keeping healthcare costs down. Fox News followed up with a write-up regarding the study. They reference additional research relating to the findings and one quote caught our attention:

“Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a professor of bioethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the survey’s findings are somewhat discouraging, and suggested that doctors must lead health care transformations.” He went on to argue in an editorial accompanying the study that physicians do not have the ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality that true reform would demand.

We think his statement could use a modifier. Most, even many, physicians might not have the all-hands on deck mentality. At least not yet. But direct primary care physicians do. Seriously, when Jeannie is sick we run our practice with just three doctors. That’s because we’re not above answering a phone, scheduling an appointment, or cleaning out the fridge if that’s what needs to happen.

Dr. Doug Nunamaker On Huckabee

We’ve got the direct care ball rolling and the movement’s definitely gaining momentum. Yes, it’s considered an alternative within our insurance-based, government-controlled healthcare system. But it’s getting attention from mainstream national media, and that’s great news! Here’s Dr. Doug on a segment of Fox’s Huckabee, hosted by Governor Mike Huckabee.

Featured alongside Dr. Doug are Drs. Marcy Zwelling and Michael Ciampi. Together they discuss the reality of privacy invasion caused by billing codes, Meaningful Use (or fail, depending on how you look at it) where doctors work for the machine instead of the patient in order to get paid, and the fact that doctors can still make a healthy salary without charging patients hundreds of dollars for each visit. Check out the second segment below.

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Fox News Columbia, South Carolina Reports On Concierge Medicine

MDVIP charges $1,500/year retainer, which comes to $125/month, a reasonable fee. However, the program operates within Medicare and traditional insurance payment. We sent out an email to find out more about what the retainer actually covers besides “all-access.” Mostly we’re curious if there are any benefits to the program that don’t entail insurance.

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