LETTER TO PATIENTS AND COMMUNITY
I have been servicing Kaysville and the surrounding communities as an independent family physician for 17 years. In that time the healthcare industry has gone through numerous changes and continues to do so. In midst of this sea of change and uncertainty, it has been challenging to remain profitable as a solo practice. However, I believe this simple, straight forward arrangement of doctor and patient is still the best way to deliver care. Unfortunately, the “system” is becoming more and more unfriendly toward this traditional arrangement. Each attempt to improve the “system” has ultimately met with failure. Exhibit A is Obamacare which has not delivered on its promises. Costs continue to rise while access continues to decline. Patients are discovering that health insurance does not equate to health care.
Insurance company intrusion into the physician patient relationship is at an all-time high. Bureaucratic regulation and quality reporting requirements have escalated out of control. Physicians are now being held accountable for outcomes they have no control over. A simple documentation error could result in thousands of dollars in fines. New billing codes have increased the complexity of an already difficult and tedious process. Government will now decide whether I am giving quality care and whether I deserve to be paid. I now spend more time doing paperwork than I do seeing patients. It is a difficult time for patients as well. Much uncertainty still exists for the future of healthcare. It is by no means certain that any replacement for Obamacare will improve things.
Meanwhile the public continues to suffer the consequences of runaway health care costs. Insurance premiums are unaffordable. Deductibles are ridiculously high. While I believe there are things that can be done to improve the situation I am not optimistic our country has the stomach or fortitude to make those changes. The latest plan called MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) is to reimburse physicians based on quality of care as determined by third party administrators. Just the name gives me pause. I believe this plan is fundamentally flawed and is destined for the trash heap of previously failed attempts to solve the health care crisis. Thomas Sowell, a prominent economist and bestselling author said, “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”
All of this means that our healthcare system is in jeopardy. Instead of watching helplessly on the sidelines, I have introduced a new practice model that I feel will have the best chance of preserving the independent, solo practice and the physician patient relationship. This model is referred to as Direct Primary Care. There was a time when healthcare decisions were between physician and patient. A time when care was delivered in a direct relationship with the patient without interference from insurance. Insurance was never meant to provide for every health care need no matter how small or trivial. We do not purchase car insurance in this fashion. Yet this is how our healthcare system has evolved and it is a driving force for uncontrolled costs. Rather, insurance serves us best as a safety net for large, catastrophic events.
Direct Primary Care is essentially a membership based approach to routine and preventive care. It is not insurance. Patients pay one low monthly membership fee. This fee gives patients access to heavily discounted care so patients can use services without being overly concerned about cost. Other services not routinely available in the traditional fee for service model may be offered as well such as internet access to your provider. At the core of Direct Primary Care is a medical practice dedicated to providing routine, everyday care, essential for the wellbeing and ongoing maintenance of a patient’s health. This is where patients go for checkups, illnesses, sprained ankles, or follow up on chronic disease. It constitutes 90 percent of healthcare services provided today. If you would like to learn more about Direct Primary Care at Kaysville Clinic, I invite you to visit the Kaysville Clinic Website and click the tab entitled Direct Primary Care.