Local physician opens direct primary care office in Platte City
Even before Dr. Ann Riggs left the Platte City area health clinic where she had been practicing medicine for years, she was bothered by what she felt was a broken healthcare system. “I knew there had to be a better way to treat people,” she said. So, after she left the clinic last February, she spent much of her time off researching a different way of providing primary care for patients. That research led to her opening a new medical office in Platte City named Direct Medical Care. Direct Medical Care offers primary care and traditional family medical services with one major difference than the majority of doctors’ offices — no insurance is accepted. Patients forego insurance companies and directly pay the office for services rendered. Doctors spend less time on paperwork, compliance checklists and coding issues so they can focus on spending time with and taking care of their patients. Riggs said while her office is independent from any other organization, the model is based on the direct primary care umbrella, a practice that is gaining traction across the country in the face of escalating healthcare costs and uncertainties. Riggs said the direct primary care model allows for physicians to spend less time dealing with insurance companies and more time with patients. She said patients can also save money in the long run by paying for preventive and primary care that she thinks should not be included in insurance coverage anyway. “Insurance should be used for major medical expenses, not primary care,” she said. “We would never expect our car insurance to pay for an oil change or our house insurance to pay for new carpet. Our expectation for our health insurance to cover our everyday preventive medical care has made health care costs rise exponentially. By eliminating insurance usage at the primary care level, the cost of care and the potential savings to the patient and their employer are staggering.” Riggs said that consumers can still keep their insurance coverage to pay for major medical expenses. She said the latest trend in healthcare coverage has been to provide lower premiums and higher deductible plans combined with health savings accounts (HSA). Patients’ funds are maximized with heavily discounted rates for office visits, labs, and imaging while remaining money can be put in a HAS rather than lost to insurance premiums. Patients at Direct Medical Care can choose to pay a monthly or annual membership fee, which includes a basic office visit and physical and discounts on procedures. There is no billing or insurance processing – patients pay at the time of their visit for services rendered.