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Scott to Decide on Direct Care for Doctor, Patients

Direct primary care is similar to a monthly service to a gym or online monthly service, where patients pay a flat rate directly to the physician, with no insurance involvement. (Pixabay)
Direct primary care is similar to a monthly service to a gym or online monthly service, where patients pay a flat rate directly to the physician, with no insurance involvement. (Pixabay)
March 13, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As states look to make changes to health care affordability and accessibility, Florida lawmakers passed a new bill that can potentially make medical care more pay-friendly.

House Bill 37 creates a more direct relationship between patient and physician, as doctors can sign patients up for direct primary care. The process is similar to a monthly service to a gym or online monthly service, where patients pay a flat rate directly to the physician, with no insurance involvement.

Dr. Lee Gross, a family physician in North Port who uses direct primary care with his patients, says that once that flat monthly rate is paid, patients won't have to worry about certain services being walled off.

"For that flat monthly fee, we don't charge for co-pays or deductibles," he says. "Everything that is done in the office is included at no additional fee. So we don't charge fee-for-services for anything and we don't bill insurance for anything we do in the office."

Those against the bill say that the direct primary care process is similar to concierge or retainer medicine, which has been under fire as a multi-tiered health system that favors the wealthy.

Opponents also say it helps the healthy while leaving the government and insurance companies with the sick. However, Gross says that argument is far from the truth.

The bill would directly affect insurance companies, as people with and without insurance could now receive care using this flat monthly fee. Gross says his physician's office, Epiphany Health, partnered with a hospital to get numbers on surgery prices and services so patients have a solid idea of what they're spending before they go through generally expensive procedures.

"The patients that seek out primary care doctors, are generally pretty sick people with multiple chronic conditions and truly have a need," he explains. "And I think we serve a purpose for those people."

The passage of the bill creates more transparency for medical services, as well as emergency care centers. The bill helps protect these direct primary care contracts, removing any issues that might come from state insurance laws that could be cited to say the contracts are breaking regulatory codes.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL