Direct Primary Care: How is it Different from Concierge Medicine?

As you explore your options, you’ll likely wonder “What is direct primary care?” As one of several emerging types of medical practices seeing major growth across the United States, it’s commonly confused with concierge medicine. On this page, we’ll explore what it is and cover how it’s different than concierge medicine, as well as who might benefit from either type of care.

What is Direct Primary Care?

Direct primary care (DPC) distinguishes itself from other models first and foremost by doing away with insurance companies. Although a few practices will occasionally call themselves DPC and accept insurance, most do not, simply because they don’t follow standard billing procedures. Instead, they charge a flat monthly fee for each patient who becomes a patient of their practice, and generally leave it at that, whether you don’t visit at all or go in ten times during one month, no additional fees are charged. Because no insurance is involved and payments are set up with automatic withdraws, most DPC offices can also do away with all staff related to billing, which helps save them money.

What’s DPC Like for a Patient?

Because physicians have a steady stream of dependable income from retainer fees, they typically limit their practices to about half the number of patients a traditional practice has, which can increase the amount of time patients get with their physician and reduce wait times to get in. Retainer fees vary but usually sit at just under $100 per month.

How is DPC Different from Concierge Medicine?

In a concierge-style practice, the focus is always on providing the patient with the best possible care. While the two models are similar in that retainer or membership fees are charged and patients get more one-on-one time with their doctor, that’s about where the commonalities end. A concierge practice sees even fewer patients than a DPC will, and often gives patients 24/7 access to their physicians. Concierge practices also tend to follow standard billing protocols, meaning they’re fee-for-service, so insurance benefits may be used towards care and insurance billing is performed by some offices. Most also take great pride in providing an abundance of services under one roof, such as state-of-the-art diagnostic testing, schedule coordination, specialist care, and medicine management, whereas it’s somewhat common for a DPC to reduce the services available (some don’t even offer vaccines) in order to keep their costs low. Lastly, practices like Dedication Health will throw in additional perks, such as online resources, valet parking, patient suites with cozy slippers waiting, and will only book one patient for any given time slot, so there’s never any in-office waiting.

Who Benefits Most from Either Model?

Those who are drawn to DPC typically move to the model because it helps them manage their healthcare expenses better, provided they’re healthy, never need specialist care, and never require hospitalization. People who lean toward concierge medicine often do so because they want a real relationship with their physician and want better and more personalized care, or they want to focus on total wellness, versus just going in for sick care.

Does Concierge Medicine Sound Right for You?

Now that you know the answer to, “What is direct primary care,” it’s probably fairly easy to see whether it or concierge medicine is more ideal for your situation. However, if you’d like more specifics on concierge medicine or want to know about the perks and other things that set Dedication Health apart from other practices, our practice manager Christine is glad to answer your questions. To get in touch with her, complete our online form or call 847-986-6770.