Everyone deserves a primary care physician; a person to help them navigate their health and the complicated healthcare system”
-DPC Dr. Aimee Ostick
Primary care may seem like it is for the little stuff: the bumps, the bruises, the colds, the cuts, the annual well-checks, and occasional sinus infections. All this and more fall into the category of “primary care.” But in truth, there is nothing small about primary care. Primary care doctors offer a medical “home” for their patients. They are the foundational building block for so many other components of health. These providers are on the frontlines of preventing diseases, detecting serious health concerns early, and offering support for people to live their best and most healthy lives. Dr. Brie Seefeldt states, “Primary care is looking at the whole person, within the web of their life. This is looking at their healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms, their stressors, their support systems. It is knowing the play for your patient, not simply being the quarterback for their care.” Building a strong relationship with your primary care physician is more like developing a partnership to support your overall health.
What types of care fall into the primary care category?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians or AAFP, primary care includes health maintenance, the promotion, diagnosis and treatment of acute illness, as well as support with chronic illnesses. Primary care is provided by doctors, but also physicians assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners too!
In the words of Heather Stech of Cedar Valley Primary Access, states,
“We consider primary care to be your “basic” day to day healthcare. Primary care is often 90% of all the healthcare you will ever need. Primary care doctors want to handle as much of your healthcare with them as possible, involving specialists for you as needed. We want to be the first place you call for questions and we want to help you navigate the healthcare system.”
How can investing in primary care save you money?
There are a few ways that primary care helps people save money on their health care overall. One big way is simply preventive care. Primary care providers are there to help you understand your health concerns at the earliest onset of symptoms or even before symptoms arise. One study notes that “Greater use of primary care is associated with lower costs, higher patient satisfaction, fewer hospitalizations, and emergency department visits, and lower mortality.” Dr. Aimee Ostick, a Direct Primary Care physician in the Sedera Community remarked, “A longitudinal relationship with a primary care physician has shown to reduce overall medical costs for patients as they can better assess and investigate healthcare problems in their patients when they’ve known them for a long time.”
Sedera partners, Nextera Healthcare report, “Annual health care costs for Nextera Healthcare DPC-enrolled members were 27% less than they were for non-DPC members, when risk adjusted using models & clinical markers from the ACG System. DPC-enrolled plan members visited urgent care 40% less & the ER 9% less than non-DPC members. Meaningful improvements were identified in inpatient visits, hospital outpatient services, & disease-specific cost of care for diabetes, asthma, & other chronic conditions.” Bottom line, investing in your every day care can help you build healthier lifestyles and prevent major costs later.
Over 80% of all healthcare issues are treatable in a primary care setting.”
– Dr. Bhavana Rao
How does primary care work with Medical Cost Sharing?
Sedera Medical Cost Sharing is there for your large, unexpected medical bills. Primary care, as we mentioned, is often for the smaller stuff, or “every day” costs. One way we recommend that Sedera Members and non-Members alike Sedera manage these costs is with a Direct Primary Care membership.
“Besides incredible patient care, one of a DPC doctor’s main goals is to help you navigate the healthcare system and help you save money” says Dr. Cliff Porter from Texas Direct Medical Care. Direct Primary Care, or DPC, is a membership-based option for managing the costs of preventive needs, non-emergency, acute medical events, and overall wellness. DPCs are often available 24/7 for quick chats over the phone, via text, and in person. They build close relationships with their patients so they can facilitate the best care possible, and know when to make referrals to outside specialists. They also work alongside their patients to save on overall medical costs rather than incur more.
“Physicians in DPC practices get to spend the time required with the patient to get to the root of their health problems. Personalized and unrestricted care incentivizes patient participation. It’s a win-win!” – Dr. Bhavana Rao, Meridian Springs.
If you already have a medical home you love and aren’t interested in changing to a membership-based model, that’s ok ! We still encourage you to build a strong relationship with your medical provider; ask good questions and invite them to help you think through how to manage your other medical costs effectively.
A Virtual Medical Home/ VPC:
These days, receiving medical care virtually from the comfort of your own home is becoming more and more popular. Virtual Medical Homes or Virtual Primary Care Practices are membership-based like DPCs, except that doctors see their patients via phone, video chat, or text rather than in person. David Slepak from Akos VPC states, “Virtual Primary Care creates a digital front door for patients that’s accessible anytime, anywhere and is the easiest way to make things simple and affordable. In the Virtual Primary Care model, patients have a dedicated Primary Care Provider to help people navigate an often confusing and costly healthcare system.”
Like Virtual Primary Care, telemedicine is a way to virtually access medical care but without a designated doctor who knows your health story and individual needs. Telemedicine is best for managing non-emergency health events, for example a sore throat or suspecting you may have a sinus infection. These services are subscription based and usually available 24/7. Many Sedera Members enroll in Teladoc along with their Sedera membership, although there are many wonderful telemedicine options available.
Whether you are already a Sedera Member looking to partner your membership with a DPC, or brand new to this entire ecosystem, explore the Direct Care map to see what is available and local to you. Regardless, find a medical home and put a plan in place for your preventive and non-emergency medical needs. This is an investment you can make for your health and wealth that yields big results.