Direct primary care (DPC) is based on the idea that better care can be delivered much more affordably by separating primary care from traditional insurance.

Two pioneers in direct primary care Dr. Garrison Bliss and Dr. Josh Umbehr have used the analogy of car insurance to explain DPC. Imagine if we insured our car the way we insure ourselves.

One way to keep car insurance reasonable is to pay for coverage of the big expenses (like collisions). The little and variable expenses – oil changes, gas, car washes, tire rotations —we pay for out of our own pocket. To apply these charges to insurance would inflate the cost such that it wouldn’t be sustainable to have a car in the first place! By paying out of our own pocket we maintain the ability to plan and negotiate. If gas or oil changes are too pricey at our usual place, we patronize the location with competitive pricing. There is an incentive for businesses to keep their costs low.

If you apply this idea to your health care: oil changes, tire rotations, car washes are like primary care and collisions are like hospital care. You need insurance for the big things—the collisions. These are unplanned catastrophes that are costly and can damage an expensive asset (like our car or ourselves). Oil changes, tire rotations, etc… these are like primary care. These are not expensive. Immunizations, routine labs, pap smears, counseling about chronic illness… you are better off negotiating for these services outside of insurance. When you do, you can plan. And you can save.