Direct Primary Care
The Direct Primary Care Model: How It Works
The direct primary care (DPC) model gives family physicians a meaningful alternative to fee-for-service insurance billing, typically by charging patients a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee. This fee covers all or most primary care services including clinical and laboratory services, consultative services, 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.
DPC benefits patients by providing substantial savings and a greater degree of access to, and time with, physicians.
DPC allows family physicians to care for the whole person while reducing the overhead and negative incentives associated with fee-for-service third-party-payer billing. Benefits of DPC to physicians include:
• More time with patients
• Simplified revenue structure
• Decreased practice overhead
• Reduced administrative burden
DPC vs. Concierge Care
Direct primary care and concierge care are not synonymous.
• Monthly membership fees paid by patients or, sometimes, the patient’s employer
• Patient fees cover extended visits, clinical, lab and consultative services, care coordination, and comprehensive care management
• Do not accept insurance or participate in government programs, relying solely on patient fees
• Annual patient membership contract with higher fees that can be paid annually or monthly
• Membership fees cover an in-depth physical exam and screenings
• May continue to accept insurance plans and government programs
• Continue to bill patient’s insurance company for covered services in addition to membership fee
• Cater to higher income populations
Get the AAFP DPC Toolkit
Developed by AAFP DPC experts and packed with easy-to-use resources. Now in a mobile-friendly format, featuring a collection of courses focused on key aspects of planning a DPC practice.
Check out the Direct Primary Care Overview
Learn about the basics of the DPC model and get answers to frequently asked questions. Free to Members»
Best value! Purchase the DPC Toolkit: Starter Pack to get access to all four courses, including the DPC Overview.
Or learn more about the DPC Toolkit courses»
Attend the DPC Summit
Join hundreds of primary care physicians and medical practitioners interested in the DPC payment model, as they come together for this premier annual event hosted by the AAFP, ACOFP and FMEC.
Whether you’re new to DPC or ready to take your practice to the next level, you can be a part of an exciting, growing movement that’s revolutionizing patient care.
The Academy's Position on DPC
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.