Frequently asked questions
Why can't patients use their insurance to pay for your care?
People are understandably confused by this; it is puzzling and frustrating realizing that insurance doesn't assure patients' access to great primary care; an example of our broken healthcare system.
Our bureaucratic system is creating excessive work for doctors, dealing with trivial regulatory requirements and distracting from actual patient care; while adding substantial overhead costs for all practices. Additionally, insurance does not reimburse adequately to make high-quality primary care a viable business model; paying so little for what truly represents great care, the care we all understandably expect.
By opting out of the insurance-based reimbursement model I'm able to spend more time with patients, provide higher quality care, and deliver it more efficiently; providing a vastly improved patient experience while also keeping costs down and providing greater value to my patients.
Do patients still need insurance?
Yes, definitely. I encourage all of my patients to have health insurance to cover catastrophic and expensive care which, if needed, falls outside my scope of practice. Also, many patients benefit from using their insurance to pay for labs/bloodwork, imaging, and other healthcare services.
I'm pretty healthy and don't go to the doctor often - would it make sense for me to become a member of your practice?
Perhaps. My practice is not designed to serve only 'sick' patients - rather, it is structured to meet a variety of needs among many different individuals, this includes 'healthy' people. Even those enjoying good health have healthcare needs over time; preventive care, acute and incidental illness, and unfortunately development of chronic problems too. Whatever a patient's needs - one understandably wants them met in the best way possible.
I am very interested in helping healthy patients stay healthy; getting or staying on the best track health-wise is a matter of paramount importance, doing so yields long-term gains of improved happiness and vitality for those individuals and their families.
I've read that membership in a DPC practice like yours can actually save patients' money, reducing their healthcare expenses - is that true?
Yes that is definitely true, though certainly not applicable to all situations; there are many variables to consider.
Having reliable access to a doctor, who promptly and thoroughly addresses patients' needs, can help to prevent an individual needing other more expensive care in our system, such as inpatient hospital care, and care from emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and specialist doctors. Also, depending on a patient's insurance coverage, but probably most applicable to those with high-deductible plans, wholesale pricing on labs and imaging can cut costs substantially.
Most importantly I believe - people who are healthier generally spend a lot less money on healthcare over the years, not to mention staying more productive. Choosing a doctor who very effectively partners with patients to improve health and wellness is arguably a prudent investment - an investment in vitality and happiness, but also financially.
Why are you charging a flat monthly fee instead of just charging per visit or per hour?
Charging a flat fee which covers everything that I can do for my patients as a doctor fosters an optimal doctor-patient relationship. The cost is the same regardless of one's health needs; most find that greatly reassuring.
I do not want to keep detailed records on how much time and effort I spend with patient care, and then figure out how to bill for the various things I do for my patients that have value. Rather, I want to focus on my patients as people, simply and fluidly providing care in the best way I can; a flat fee allows me to do that.
With patients budgeting for this fixed monthly fee they can promptly and freely seek care and guidance from me without concern for additional costs - this usually translates to better health outcomes.
What about urgent after-hours issues?
For urgent issues I am available by phone after-hours, weekends, and holidays. If it's a true medical emergency patients should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Do you take vacation?
Yes, I usually take vacation about 2-3 weeks per year; during which time I have another provider available to see patients for urgent issues when necessary.
What about immunizations?
I make thoughtful recommendations on what to get and where to get it, in consideration of benefits and risks, cost, and medical guidelines. I do not administer immunizations in my office. In most circumstances obtaining immunizations at pharmacies is easy and cost-effective.
Where do you stand on the use of medications and medical procedures?
I believe in the natural healing abilities of the body, and believe the greatest influence on our health and well-being is how we take care of ourselves and one another. I also believe that medication and modern technology can be lifesavers, and how thankful I am to have those available to us. I work hard to keep people off medications and away from procedures when it is possible, safe, and advantageous to their health - when that is not the case, and when it makes sense to do so, I offer these other options for treatment.
The 'art of medicine' means several things to me - one, is identifying the appropriate middle ground between natural treatments and modern medicine; helping patients to understand this and making decisions accordingly is a big part of my practice.
Do you take care of your patients in the hospital?
No, not directly. Like most primary care doctors these days I no longer directly manage the care of hospitalized patients. However, if patients end up in the hospital, I follow along closely, getting involved and communicating with hospital doctors where needed.