The impact of tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) to foster direct primary care (DPC) models will be a refreshing change to the cumbersome accounts receivable processes we are all frustrated by.
In response to “Bill would allow HSA use for direct primary care” (Medical Economics, January 25, 2017), I was delighted to read that there is an actual “Primary Care Enhancement Act of 2016.”
The impact of tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) to foster direct primary care (DPC) models will be a refreshing change to the cumbersome accounts receivable processes we are all frustrated by. After years of dealing with nonpayment due to high-deductible plans of Obamacare, patients and physicians are ready for a more direct model.
We as physicians want to provide good and prompt care, and patients actually do want us to get paid for our hard work. We need to dissolve the ridiculous game of charged fees vs. allowed fees, coinsurances, copayments and deductibles.
A direct payment model will also free up so much of the time we spend following up on rejected claims, or doing prior authorizations. Time that we can devote back to patient care, finally.
The third-party insurance companies and Medicare should have no role in the day-to-day care of patients, and be in place solely for catastrophic circumstances, such as hospitalizations or other prolonged medical care.
Next: Addressing cost of healthcare services
One problem I foresee, however, is that we still must address the cost of healthcare services first. There must be some sort of fair market value or maximum a doctor can charge for visits (that primary care doctors collectively decide, not the government).
The cost of prescription medications, vaccines and in-office procedures would also need to be regulated and adjusted locally. A menu of services and fees that a primary care doctor offers should be readily available for patients to see before they make an appointment.
Transparency will make it easier for the patient to decide for him or herself who to see, and exactly what the costs will be at the time of visit. This kind of system will allow for a far better doctor-patient relationship than we have had in decades.
I hope that President Trump and HHS Secretary [Tom] Price work closely with primary care physicians such as myself, to ensure that an HSA-DPC model is put in place.
Niti V. Peruvemba, DO, FACP
Westlake Village, California