What is Direct Primary Care?

Anne Richter | President, Accresa
by Anne Richter | President, Accresa
November 2, 2017

Welcome! I’m pleased to formally re-introduce you to Accresa: our rapidly-growing solution for employers seeking an easier way to design, implement, and manage a direct primary care (DPC) benefit for their employees.

Direct primary care is an innovative healthcare payment model that strives to improve access to quality care by fostering stronger relationships between patients and their primary care physicians, and eliminating the misalignment of incentives created by the traditional fee-for-service construct. The idea is that by cutting out the expense and inefficiency associated with paying for primary care services through an insurance company, physicians will be able to spend more time focused on keeping their patients well, and patients will be able to obtain dedicated access to exceptional care from a doctor they know and trust.
What’s interesting about DPC is that while many consider it to be an “innovative” delivery model, compared to “traditional” fee-for-service healthcare, in many ways, DPC is actually the oldest and most “traditional” form of healthcare delivery in existence. Before hospitals, before insurance companies, before claims and health plans and everything else that is now all too familiar to today’s healthcare consumers, there were only two stakeholders in the healthcare “system”: the doctor and the patient. And that’s what DPC is all about.

Needless to say, reverting back to the DPC ideal isn’t as simple as flipping a switch – hence the need for DPC “innovation” that can adapt all the key attributes of the model to our 21st century reality. And it would be impossible to affect meaningful change within the American healthcare system without acknowledging the one reality that has had arguably the most significant impact on how Americans today obtain and pay for healthcare: the rise of employer-sponsored coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance is somewhat of a modern phenomenon. It was practically non-existent prior to WWII, but wage freezes imposed during the war and postwar changes to tax policy gave employers, for the first time, a huge incentive to offer attractive benefits packages to recruit and retain top talent. It wasn’t too long before health insurance was considered part and parcel of employment. Today, the majority of nonelderly Americans (more than 55 percent) still obtain health insurance from an employer – about 160 million people in total.

What does this have to do with DPC, and with Accresa? While direct primary care seeks to remove barriers between doctor and patient, continued expansion of the DPC model must fit within the framework of the employer-sponsored system through which the majority of Americans obtain coverage. Accresa came to exist because through our sister company, Ameriflex, we have a long history of developing and delivering innovative products and technologies aimed at making it easier for employers to control healthcare costs and provide great benefits to their employees. It was with this unique perspective on the challenges facing employers today, and the need for better tools to enable the delivery of innovative benefits like DPC, that we set out to build Accresa: the first solution to bring direct primary care and other alternative payment models into the employer-sponsored benefits world. It is our hope that by improving the payments functionality and administrative capabilities required for employers to easily build and scale DPC and similar benefits, more employees and their families can experience healthcare the way it was always meant to be. 

Topics: DPC


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