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Looking into Healthcare’s Crystal Ball – The Present and Future of Direct Primary Care

The sun was already setting on the traditional in-office business world as we knew it, but 2020 became an accelerant that forced a reckoning on all fronts. The conventional ways of doing business, having a workforce in one location, and one-size-fits-all benefit plans quickly fell out of favor. Companies on the cutting edge of technology and innovation fared better than those who were slower to adopt new methodologies.

This past year drastically upended not only traditional business but also the way we consume healthcare. From virtual primary care to virtual urgent care visits, we learned that telemedicine isn’t only a helpful benefit in some healthcare plans, but it’s vital in this digital world. Here we’ll examine how outdated traditions are being replaced by a hybrid healthcare solution that transcends socioeconomic and geographic barriers for employers of every size.

The Past

In 2018, 40 percent of American households earned less than $50,000 per year per four-person household. Low wages with no benefits have left many Americans out in the cold when it comes to healthcare. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69 percent of low-wage workers, those in the 10th lowest percentile of median wage earners in the U.S. civilian workforce, do not receive paid sick leave benefits.

With earnings so low they can’t afford to take unpaid time off when sick, many keep working and expose others to illness in the process. COVID-19 taught us this practice could have serious, if not deadly, consequences. Direct primary care (DPC) is a healthcare model that evolved to be a cost-effective solution that makes healthcare more accessible to everyone via a multi-platform delivery of care through in-person, phone, or video visits. In situations like these, access to a primary care physician via telehealth became extremely meaningful.

Traditional DPC

To eliminate the stress of dealing with third-party payers, many doctors opt to see patients on a direct primary care model only. This practice is known as a traditional DPC practice. Instead of billing insurance, members pay a monthly fee for unlimited primary care. This model gives doctors the ability to offer the same level of high-quality care to all their patients without generating claims that will later impact an employer’s health plan.

Because traditional DPC eliminated insurance billing codes, physicians operating solely under the DPC model benefit from both the lower overhead associated with small practices and the absence of hassles created by insurance companies. With the model, employers and employees get an affordable healthcare alternative to insurance, but there are limitations. Traditional DPC practices are regional, meaning they can only see a limited number of patients because they exist in one location. Employers with multiple or nationwide locations and mobile or remote workforces need accessibility and convenience for their entire crew.

The Tipping Point

DPC Present and Future

The pandemic taught businesses to lean into flexibility. A recent survey found 74 percent of CFOs plan to keep workers remote after the pandemic. From a financial standpoint, having a remote workforce makes sense. The cost savings have allowed many companies to avoid further severe cuts and downsizing.

Even after the pandemic is over, many don’t expect to return to business as usual. Facebook announced its employees could work from home for the next 5 to 10 years. Twitter and other large companies have also announced a permanent switch to virtual-first work environments. We’ll likely see more central offices replaced with far-flung employees and contractors outside of metropolitan areas. The trend was already happening pre-pandemic, and now it’s accelerated.

In 2019, 65 percent of professionals said they would be more productive working remotely than in a traditional office, with 49 percent saying they go to their home office when they need to focus and get work done. With cost savings, increased productivity, and rising employee morale, it’s clear a remote workforce isn’t forthcoming—it has already ignited.

Situations like this will raise new healthcare issues for a team working from a variety of locations. And, for those employers who were forced to lay off workers, shrinking headcounts could also have an unforeseen impact on insurance premiums.

What that means for employers is the traditional options for health plans are incongruent with how employees live today. Traditional Direct primary care practices adapted to a hybrid approach to fill this ever-widening void for employers who have remote employees in various states and mobile workers who live on the go.

Nationwide, Hybrid DPC

A hybrid Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is especially beneficial when it’s part of a nationwide network of providers accessible in any state. This approach has been a game-changer for companies expanding their remote workforce across state lines. It’s also extremely beneficial for restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industry businesses with locations in multiple states.

The Benefits of Hybrid DPC

For transportation, sales, and other mobile professions, a nationwide DPC membership is extremely valuable for several reasons. Each provider has its list of particular services, but some DPC membership benefits include:

  • Patient advocates to support members in navigating their healthcare options
  • 24/7/365 access to a primary care provider via telehealth or in-office visits
  • Unlimited in-office visits for a minimal-to-no fee
  • Annual physical provided to establish a baseline for member health
  • Early-stage chronic disease management

It’s helpful to have health insurance for catastrophic life events, but being able to see the doctor when you’re ill without paying expensive deductibles or copays is a reason people love DPC.

Traditional DPC practices and hybrid DPC providers are all working together to ensure people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can get the healthcare they need to live happier and healthier lives. If you’d like more information about access to affordable and convenient healthcare, contact Healthcare2U, the nation’s fastest-growing, hybrid DPC provider.

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