As so many of us are aware, the cost of healthcare, basic primary care, is skyrocketing. Patients are at the mercy of the industry pricing and they rarely know the cost before deciding to seek care. Many times the charged price is 10 times as much as the negotiated rate set by insurance companies and 20 times as much as the lab test actually costs to perform.
I joined the Direct Primary Care movement in 2016 to help patients find lower cost options for their healthcare. TDPC’s parent company, Trinity Medical Associates, has been innovating new ways to lower the cost of care for our community for years. Direct Primary Care has become a powerful force benefiting patients regardless of insurance coverage. When we are able to push the price lower everyone benefits.
In our program, we’ve been working with our national lab vendor to seek out lower cost prices. How has this worked out? So far we’ve been able to secure 60-90% savings off most all labs and many common labs are now so inexpensive for us to purchase, we provide them for free with membership.
For instance, the standard labs I use to manage diabetes like a Hgb A1c, a lipid panel, a kidney and liver function panel, and an insulin level are all free four times a year. That’s the normal follow up schedule for diabetes. These labs are so inexpensive it felt like the right thing to do to give them to patients without cost. I mean, I don’t charge for checking your blood pressure either.
Recently, one of my colleagues showed me a price list for common labs available to his patients. Generally, these prices are already at a discount from what is charged by medical practices so retail pricing might be even higher. I’ve overlaid the prices for my practice for comparison.
Well, you can see for yourself the cost differences in what you might pay somewhere else and the savings you’ll get through the Trinity DPC program. By lowering the cost of labs, patients have better access to primary care services regardless of insurance coverage. They can monitor and manage their chronic illnesses easier and, maybe, those illnesses become a little less chronic. Complications of these illness could improve which would lead to less death and disability in the people about whom I care. How much better would it be to not need dialysis or an amputation?
If you take this price list in total, the cost of all the labs through the Trinity DPC program is only $165. Through the regular, insurance based system the cost is $2562.74. Imagine meeting your deductible every year just because of the cost labs. We can offer patients a $2397.74 discount, a savings of 93.6%, just by avoiding the price fixing scheme of modern healthcare. What would you do with an extra $2397.74 in your pocket each year?
-Dr. Mark B McColl