Maine Heritage Policy Center Releases Report on Direct Primary Care

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July 6, 2016

Today I had the pleasure of being invited to the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House to give some remarks about the newly released report from the Maine Heritage Policy Center entitled “Restoring The Doctor-Patient Relationship, How Entrepreneurship Is Revolutionizing Health Care In Maine.”  It is a research project authored by Liam Siguad doing an analysis on Direct Primary Care (DPC) in Maine.

I am admittedly biased on the subject, but I think it was very well done.  It is a concise summary of what DPC is, who is doing it, and how it can help people in our state.

Unfortunately, both the audio and video of the press conference is not of the best quality.  If you want to try to listen to it, please click here

 

Below is a transcript of my remarks:

I would like to thank the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Liam in particular for putting in the effort to do this research.

My name is Michael Ciampi, M.D.  I live and work in South Portland, ME.  I am the owner of Ciampi Family Practice, one of the first Direct Primary Care practices in Maine.

I am not a politician, lobbyist, or bureaucrat.  I am a doctor who just wants to take care of his patients.  I can tell you that over the past several years, that simple goal has been harder and harder to achieve.  Because of the ever increasing demands on our small practice brought on by insurance companies and government regulations, private practices like mine are being forced to close at an alarming rate.

I was thrilled to discover a new model of healthcare delivery in which physicians are unburdened from most of the red tape that takes the joy out of practicing medicine.  All the time that had been spent dealing with red tape is now spent taking care of patients.  That model is Direct Primary Care, or DPC.

With DPC, a physician contracts directly with his/her patients rather than submit claims to an insurance company.  For a reasonable monthly or annual fee, we provide our patients will essentially unlimited primary care services.  We also provide our patients access to many generic medications provided at cost, as well as cash pricing on lab tests that may be more than 90% less than patients would pay at a hospital lab.

Not only do we provide our patients with exceptional access to care, usually getting our patients a visit with their own personal physician on the same day, but we also are available for phone calls, e-mails, and even house calls.

One thing I love about Direct Primary Care is that because we don’t charge by the visit, I don’t have to wait for my patients to get sick in order to make a living.  The healthier I help my patients to be, the better we both do.

With this model of practicing medicine, a doctor has more time to spend with his/her patients.  Studies have shown that if a doctor has more time to do a good history and physical on a patient, especially one with whom they have a trusting relationship, they are less likely to have to order large numbers of expensive tests.  This saves the patient, as well as the system a great deal of money.

The report gives substance to what Direct Primary Care physicians and their patients in Maine and across the country have known for some time.  DPC achieves the quintuple aim of

    1. Access to care
    2. Quality, personalized care
    3. Affordability
    4. Higher patient satisfaction, and
    5. Higher physician satisfaction

Direct Primary Care should not be confused with the more expensive concierge medicine, which is out of reach for most financially strapped Mainers.

As this report points out, DPC is a great way for working Mainers, including those who are uninsured and underinsured to get actual healthcare delivered for less than the price of a monthly cell phone bill, a night on the town or a day at the beauty parlor.

Direct Primary Care is a great option for individuals and families seeking quality care, as well as for self insured businesses trying to provide the best care for employees.

It is important to note that Direct Primary Care is not health insurance.  We advise that our patients have some type of coverage in case of catastrophic illness or injury, whether that be through traditional insurance or via a qualified faith based health sharing ministry, such as Samaritan, Liberty Healthshare, Medishare, or Christian Health Ministries.

It is our hope that this report is a first step in bringing DPC into the spotlight as a big part of solving Maine’s healthcare crisis.  We believe that by showing doctors in other states, and more importantly medical students and resident physicians, that primary care is once again a viable career option, we will attract more doctors both into this badly needed field, and into our state.

As the report concludes, more needs to be done to encourage the Direct Primary Care model in Maine.  Specifically, we would ask legislators to pass a very simple bill that confirms that DPC is not an insurance plan, but a personal service contract between a patient and their doctor.  As such, it does not need to be regulated by the insurance commission.  Passage of this legislation will improve access for Mainers to high quality, affordable healthcare.

In closing, I would again like to thank MHPC for publishing this important report.  I hope that it has been enlightening and educational.  It is my hope that it will help spread the word on the Direct Primary Care model to both patients and physicians alike.  Both love it because with it, doctors can get back to the important work of practicing medicine and taking care of patients.

Thank you.

 

Please click below for the report:

  Maine Heritage Policy Center DPC ReportMaine Heritage DPC Report

 

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