Membership-based primary care model sees rise

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Direct primary care—a model in which patients pay a membership fee for their primary care physician and typically do not use health insurance—is trending upward in popularity, according to experts.

Dr. Melissa Miller, the owner and physician of Premier Health MD in Cedar Park, said patients at her membership-based practice benefit from the direct primary care model.

“They get longer appointments, and they don’t have to wait in the waiting room very much, so it’s more personalized and more convenient for people,” Melissa said.

Monica McKitterick, the owner and family nurse practitioner of Impact Family Wellness in Cedar Park, said these benefits are facilitated by the fact that direct primary care offices do not accept insurance. By taking insurance companies and the related paperwork out of the equation, health care providers have more time and resources to focus on their patients.

“Direct primary care takes care of patients instead of insurance companies,” McKitterick said.

David Miller, Melissa’s husband and the practice manager of Premier Health MD, said they work to keep costs affordable for patients.

“We actually work with a number of pharmacies [to get]discounts for patients, and [in]a lot of cases the costs are actually … less than what their insurance copays will be,” David said. “We include [a]very extensive annual physical, EKG, lots of lab work—that’s just part of our regular membership price. A lot of the things we do actually save people money.”

McKitterick said the trend toward direct primary care is also advantageous for providers.

“I absolutely think [direct primary care]is going to become more and more popular, not only because it benefits the patient … but also from a provider standpoint because provider burnout is huge,” she said. “This now allows me to take care of patients how I always imagined that I would.”

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Abby Bora
Abby Bora started at Community Impact Newspaper in May 2017. After working as a reporter, she became editor of the Cedar Park-Leander edition in October 2018. She covers Leander ISD and city government. Bora graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies.
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