Floridians may no longer need health insurance for office visits, basic lab work and other routine medical costs under a bill that looks likely to pass when the Florida Legislature begins its session Jan. 9.
The bill would allow doctors to offer patients basic health care in return for a monthly fee, similar to the concierge medical services offered to wealthy individuals. But unlike those plans, which can range into thousands of dollars, direct primary care costs would range from about $50 to $100 a month, according to a legislative staff analysis of the bill.
In return for that monthly payment, patients would receive no- or low-cost office visits, annual exams, routine lab work and other basic medical services, depending on the terms of the contract. And subscribers should be able to see their doctors with little or no wait.
Direct primary care is already legal in Florida, but doctors have been hesitant to enter into the agreements for fear they could be subject to state insurance regulation. The bill makes it clear these contracts do not count as insurance and are not subject to insurance regulation.
“Direct primary care isn’t a new model. However, because of legislation and how people are wired in their thinking – they think insurance is the way to do it – a lot of people haven’t considered direct primary care,” said Alex Williams, the office administrator of Fort Lauderdale’s Coupet Quality Clinic.
The clinic has operated for more than a year and now has about 200 patients. It has just one doctor, a nurse and a handful of other employees — the fact it does not accept insurance cuts down on the paperwork.
“Because there’s no billing and none of that extra stuff, you can spend more time with the patient,” Williams said. “Our mantra around here is: No insurance, no problems.”
Patients pay $10-$100 per month, depending on their age, and for that fee can visit the doctor’s office as many times as necessary. Williams said it’s especially beneficial to people with chronic ailments such as diabetes that necessitate regular visits.
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