One of the trends I’ve seen over the last several years is more and more doctors abandoning insurance and the third-party payer system in favor of direct payment by patients. For self-pay patients, finding doctors who only take direct payment is one of the best ways to save money while still receiving great access to health care.
There are basically two types of direct payment practices, cash-only where patients pay for each visit and treatment, and direct primary care, where patients pay a monthly (sometimes quarterly or annual) fee in exchange for nearly unlimited access to a primary care physician for no additional cost or a very modest per-visit charge.
Yesterday I was happy to see in my inbox a message letting me know at least one more doctor is opening a direct primary care practice, this one in Henderson, Tennessee, just north of Nashville. Life Survival Health, operated by Dr. L. Joseph Valdez, will be opening its doors on January 1 as a direct primary care practice.
Life Survival Health describes itself this way:
Life Survival is a member program. Other common descriptions are retainer, membership, or private medicine. It is similar to concierge medicine.
For a yearly membership fee, the client receives a comprehensive medical assessment which includes chronic disease management, preventive care, and lifestyle improvement strategies. Acute-care and health-maintenance visits are charged thereafter according to a tiered system.
Members have continuous remote access to their professional via phone, text or email. Appointments are available either same-day or next-day. There is no waiting room time. Prescriptions are transmitted to your pharmacy electronically. Telemedicine is available when appropriate.
Our program has a firm membership limit. We cater to far fewer clients than a conventional practice. Without the time-constraint burden of a busy schedule, our members benefit from prompt scheduling, lengthy visits, rapid communication, detailed explanations, and proactive prevention. A more personalized approach is possible, allowing a better bond between you and your professional, creating better team effort in your health management.
The direct financial relationship between physician and client drastically reduces administrative overhead expenses. This translates to real, tangible savings to you as a consumer. Lowers costs, coupled with rapid high levels of service, make our direct practice model an impressively affordable and sensible approach to keeping you healthy.
Life Survival Health is still in the process of setting the price and fee structure, but from what they told me in the e-mail it looks like it will probably be around $59 a month for an individual and only $100 for a family, with each visit charged only $10 to $15.
Tennessee has a number of cash-only doctors already (a quick look on the SimpleCare web site showed eight in family practice alone) but I don’t see any direct primary care practices currently operating in the state, so the opening of Life Survival Health represents a big expansion of the options available to self-pay patients in the Volunteer State (if there are any others operating in Tennessee, please let me know!).
One of the more challenging aspects of being a self-pay patient is finding a doctor that is able to provide real and transparent prices to people paying directly for their own care. The opening of Life Survival Health and hopefully many more cash-only and direct primary care practices will go a long way towards overcoming this challenge.
- Concierge doctors no longer just for the rich (marketwatch.com)