Direct Primary Care is a model of healthcare in which patients pay a monthly fee to get direct, basic medical services without making insurance claims. There are more than 70 DPC practices nationwide in 32 states, according to the Direct Primary Care Coalition, including Infinity Family Care in Mansfield, founded in 2016 by business partners Dr. Wendy Cohen of Foxborough and Dr. David Cunningham of Sharon. We spoke to Cohen for this story.
Q. How much does it cost and what do you get?
A. Depending on your age, it’s between $75 and $115 a month, $200 if you’re homebound and we come to you. You get all your office visits, wellness visits, chronic disease management, acute-care visits, urine screening, joint injections, pap smears, biopsies, blood work, and a lot more. One of my favorite parts: Six-week natal care, we go to the house of a newborn at no extra cost. It’s much better than parents having to pack up the child and come here, plus we get to see the babies in their homes and can give advice and make suggestions accordingly.
Q. Can some benefit from just this with no health insurance?
A. Ideally if someone’s young and healthy, yes, and though you’ll pay a penalty for not having insurance, it could be less than what your premium would be. We can sit down and look at your health care needs and see what your options are. We’re not anti-insurance, but the system misaligns incentives and cuts down on time doctors can spend with patients.
Q. How much time to you spend with patients?
A. Our visits are 30-60 minutes long; most physicals are a full hour. The national average time that doctors spend with each patient is seven minutes.
Q. Are you making money at this?
A. We’re making less because you don’t start out with a full panel of patients, and there are start-up costs. But once we’re full — we want to have 400 patients each, and we’re about 75 percent there — we should be making comparable money to what we were before in regular practices.
Q. What about specialists?
A. We know a lot of area specialists, and since there’s no insurance involved, we can negotiate much lower payments. An MRI for example can be thousands; we can get them for $500. One of a physician’s credos is “Do no harm.” We think that applies to financial harm, too.