Early last month the Springfield News-Leader published an excellent article about direct primary care, a topic we’ve covered extensively. Direct primary care (DPC) generally removes middleman insurers from the care equation, facilitating improvements not only in the cost of care, but also in the availability of care for the patients enrolled in DPC programs. And the title of the article explains the state of affairs in DPC well: “A different doctor’s office is on the rise locally—and it’s a critique of the traditional health system.” As you might expect, I highly recommend reading the whole piece.
But before you do, I’d like to highlight one quote from the story that is among the better explanations of the principles of not only DPC practices, but of substantive health care reform in general.
“The classic analogy of direct primary care is auto insurance,” said Dr. Shelby Smith, who will open Equality Healthcare with two fellow doctors in December. “Everybody needs auto insurance for a car wreck. You don’t use auto insurance for a car wash, or an oil change or new tires. Sort of what we’re doing in the primary care realm is saying that primary care in this country should be accessible, it should be affordable and the pricing should be very transparent.”
Bingo. Dr. Smith’s focus on access and the cost of care is not only what DPC practices are largely all about, but they are also what the focus of our public policy should be. “Coverage” is not care, and until policymakers more readily recognize this fact at the state and federal levels, we should not expect insurance rates to stop rising or insurance plans to stop failing en masse. DPC offers a blueprint for health care policy progress; hopefully lawmakers will study it closely.