It seems the number of Americans with primary care providers (PCPs) is shrinking. Part of it is due to economic disparities and other barriers to care. In fact, 50 percent of Americans say they put off getting healthcare because of costs. But there's also a growing number of people who don't understand the importance of primary care and how to use the healthcare system most effectively. As of 2019, just 67 percent of millennials had a primary care physician, compared with 85 percent of baby boomers.
Most people don't know the complexities of their health and wellness. Often people ignore warning signs in their bodies until something drastic happens, at which point they rush to the emergency room or urgent care. The problem with treating the E.R. like primary care is skyrocketing costs for the patient and their employer if they have health insurance. Without health insurance, medical bills can quickly overwhelm anyone.
Having primary care helps patients get effective care by helping them to be proactive about their health. To that end, direct primary care (DPC) has come to the forefront because it provides affordable access to disease prevention, chronic disease management, and 21st-century convenience for a generation that never slows down.
Prevention Saves Lives
PCPs can screen for many ailments, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also review immunization records and help keep patients and their families up to date with shots and other preventative measures.
Studies show that people who utilize primary care have better health outcomes, including lower rates of all causes of mortality. Researchers found noticeably lower death rates from heart disease, cancer, or stroke, infant mortality, low birth weight, and poor self-reported health in areas where people sought care from primary care physicians.
Building an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician and their team empowers people to take control of their health. Having a support system and a wealth of knowledge they could never get on their own assuages fears or unfamiliarity that might prevent some from getting life-saving care. Having someone to tell you when something's not quite right or advise you to see a specialist can prevent illnesses from developing or worsening. In the event of being referred to a specialist, this knowledge and familiarity help personalize your care and save time that may have previously been spent explaining medical history.
Chronic Disease Management
A primary care provider is responsible for screening all major health-related conditions. If you already have a chronic disease, your PCP helps manage it and improve your quality of life. Unfortunately, some health plans don't accept people with preexisting conditions. This alienates a large segment of people, as approximately 133 million Americans, over 40 percent of the total population, suffer from chronic diseases. That number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions.
People with preexisting conditions are the ones who need care the most, but with insurers turning many away, some can't afford quality healthcare to keep their disease from escalating. This is just one of many reasons direct primary care memberships have become so vital.
DPC memberships accept people with preexisting conditions and make managing disease much more affordable. With a plan like Healthcare2U's My Direct Primary Care Plus (MyDPCplus) for individuals, members get unlimited treatment and management of 13 chronic disease states for a $10 visit fee. Now people who desperately need care can finally get it.
Twenty-first Century Convenience
Even before social distancing due to coronavirus, Millennials were leading the charge toward technology-driven healthcare. Studies show the benefits telemedicine and virtual care are not lost on millennials and Gen Xers. These generations are more likely than baby boomers to report that a telemedicine option is "extremely or very important." Forty percent of millennials say telemedicine is an extremely or very important option, compared with 27 percent among Gen Xers and 19 percent among baby boomers.
As part of a direct primary care membership, telemedicine or virtual care is available to members 24/7/365 at no cost. This benefit was a game-changer during the pandemic and will continue to expand in the years to come. The convenience and affordability this benefit provides is much appreciated by people who are busy but still value quality healthcare.
How DPC Can Help
The misconception among many is that one can't have access to quality primary care unless he has insurance. In fact, one study found a 40 percent increased risk of death among the uninsured. However, in the age of Direct Primary Care (DPC), this no longer has to be the case.
DPC is a monthly membership that provides affordable and convenient access to excellent primary medical care, wellness, and chronic disease management for a low monthly fee. DPC has become extremely important in recent years for those who don't have health insurance and even those who do. Some High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) require patients to pay high copays and deductibles for care, which puts routine healthcare out of reach for some.
A DPC membership can be combined with an HDHP, so the employed or unemployed can visit a primary care provider for little to nothing. With the onslaught of lay-offs and a global pandemic in recent months, people are looking for solutions to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy without breaking the bank.
For more information about how DPC memberships can provide quality care for employees and individuals, contact Healthcare2U.