One of the key characteristics of most Direct Primary Care practices is that patients don’t have to pay any copays. With the monthly subscription covering access as well as primary care medical services, employees are already financially vested in their care. The following discusses advantages of a “$0 copay policy”:
For the Employee - Removal of a Barrier
Copays are a barrier to access, especially for low-wage earners. Aside from the hour or two it may take for the employee to be seen by the doctor, a co-pay can be equal to several hours of wages. For example, say a person makes $10 an hour. An 8 hour shift yields $80, but after taxes, the patient’s net for the day might be $60. A two hour trip to the doctor and back, plus a $20 copay totals $40 of expense, or two-thirds of the day’s take-home. Would you give up 66% of your day’s income to visit a doctor? Take away the copay barrier, and thankful patients will see the doctor to receive necessary care, and follow-up more readily.
For the Doctor - Less Hassle at the Front Desk
All copays aren’t created equal. Some are high, some are low, and some are “co-insurance”. The front desk at the doctors’ office, typically also tasked with answering calls, greeting patients, and scheduling follow-ups, now has to inject the cold business of medicine by asking for money, finding change, and issuing receipts before discharging the patient. Imagine a front desk that only focused on the patient experience rather than asking for copays. More importantly, more time is spent caring for the patient than in collections.
For the Employer - Better Workforce Morale
As an employer, would you rather invest in a health plan that employees use regularly to improve their health, or one that employees neglect due to cost? Provision of a “$0 copay” Direct Primary Care program will always be welcomed by employees, driving up morale, utilization, and return on investment.
For the Economy - A Less Expensive Healthcare System
CDC statistics show that the number of primary care doctor visits in 2010 was 550 million! If you consider an average copay of $20, that is $11 billion dollars spent! Yet another reason why healthcare is expensive for the consumer in this country.
Copays are a way to control insurance claims, another invention of risk management. Why not eliminate this barrier entirely and provide care more often to those in need? In Direct Primary Care practices which typically shun copays, employees, employers, and doctors all benefit.