Why is Naturopathic Medicine not the standard of Primary Care in America? Why are NDs clamoring to join an insurance based system that promotes disease based care, high costs, and poor patient/provider satisfaction? Naturopathic Physicians (NDs) have the training, principles, and philosophy to meet the health challenges that our Nation is experiencing. It is true that Naturopathic Medicine has faced and continues to face opposition but in today’s health climate Naturopathic Medicine is needed more than ever. I believe that NDs have the tools and the capacity to create a movement to shift the healthcare paradigm from an expensive, hard to access, diseased-based-system to an affordable wellness-based-system. I believe the mechanism for this movement exists in the Direct Care model.
The Direct Care model is the model I successfully employ, allowing me to deliver affordable and unrestricted naturopathic care to my community. Commonly, Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices charge an affordable membership fee that covers unrestricted access to care. In return DPC physicians do not submit claims to 3rd party insurance providers. Beyond the membership fee and no insurance billing, DPC practitioners may decide upon other ancillary fees for procedures, medications, nutraceuticals, and lab testing. A survey of Direct Care practices has found the average national fee for unrestricted primary services to be approximately $900.00 per year, which is roughly 80% less than the national average deductible of $4,120.00. Direct Primary Care can be affordable for virtually everyone.
In my opinion the Direct Primary Care model will allow our profession to truly move forward on its own terms and in direct accordance with the philosophy and the patients it serves, bypassing the bureaucracy and restrictions built into the current system. DPC provides a way for naturopathic practitioners to practice medicine without compromising the principles of naturopathy, the therapeutic order, and the Nature based therapies our predecessors fought so hard to pass on. Naturopathic doctors who are passionate about providing accessible, affordable, and transparent health care should be passionate about the DPC model.
NDs who choose to practice through the DPC model no longer have to worry about how to get paid by insurance agencies. They no longer have to charge high time-of-service fees to meet the demands of running a business, paying student loans, and saving for the future. In fact, for a fraction of what most Americans must pay in deductibles, DPC practitioners provide unrestricted care while setting themselves free financially and professionally. NDs utilizing DPC can easily realize financial success and in fact, this model has been proven to provide primary care physicians with incomes on par with their conventional colleagues while serving 6-12 patients per day. Moreover, DPC practices have the potential to save the US economy billions of dollars per year by eliminating the middleman and the red tape it takes to interface with them, decreasing hospital visits, reducing patient wait times, and reducing rates of chronic illness while improving overall health outcomes.
I envision the DPC model as a vehicle that enables the Naturopathic Profession to deliver a free market solution to a health care system that is in desperate need of repair. When the naturopathic profession embraces the Direct Primary Care model it will have a significant and positive impact on the health industry and millions of Americans. Simultaneously it will strengthen our profession by allowing unparalleled patient access and care, and financial viability for naturopathic physicians.
Let Naturopathy shift the paradigm towards wellness based care that is accessible, affordable, and accountable. I call on all NDs and naturopathic associations to adopt and champion the Direct Primary Care model—because we all deserve a better health care experience!
If you would like more information about how to start your own DPC practice you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.