Direct Primary Care

Overview of DPC

The direct primary care (DPC) payment model gives family physicians a meaningful alternative to fee-for-service insurance billing, typically by charging patients a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee (i.e., a retainer) that covers all or most primary care services including clinical, laboratory, and consultative services, and care coordination and comprehensive care management. Because some services are not covered by a retainer, DPC practices often suggest that patients acquire a high-deductible wraparound policy to cover emergencies.

Direct primary care rewards family physicians for caring for their patients while reducing the overhead and negative incentives associated with fee-for-service, third-party-payer billing. Other benefits to physicians include:

  • Decreased practice overhead
  • Fewer medical errors / less exposure to risk
  • Improved practice collections rates
  • More time with patients
  • Reduced patient volume
  • Zero insurance filing

The American Academy of Family Physicians supports the physician and patient choice to, respectively, provide and receive health care in any ethical health care delivery system model, including the DPC practice setting. For more information on the AAFP's stance, view its policy on DPC.