Is this the same as “Concierge Medicine”?
Yes… and no. Direct Primary Care practices like Bethlehem Direct Care strive to offer concierge-level service and care for our patients, at about one-third of the cost. While concierge practices may charge close to $2,000 for a year-long membership and still bill insurance, we do neither of those. We consider ourselves “the Honda model”—providing great service and care that you can count on, at a price point that is affordable for everyday people.
What is included in a membership at Bethlehem Direct Care?
Any necessary office visits are included in the monthly fee, without additional co-pays or per visit fees. This includes work, sports or school physicals, chronic care management visits, acute visits for illness or minor injury, all with minimal wait time in the office.
The following labs are included with no additional charge: cholesterol panel, metabolic panels (includes blood sugar), blood counts, TSH, A1c, uric acid, urinalysis, and strep test.
The following office procedures are also included: EKG, ear wash, I&D of abscess, cryotherapy (or freezing) of warts or other skin lesions, breathing treatments, and removal of simple skin lesions like skin tags.
Member patients also have access to direct communication with your doctor by personal cell phone, text, email, or video chat when appropriate.
What things cost extra?
Additional lab testing beyond the basic included labs is offered at discounted prices, typically about a 90% savings compared to insurance-based prices.
The following treatments and specimen testing are available for a small added cost, to cover our equipment and expenses: joint and bursa injections (knee, shoulder, hip bursa, elbow tendonitis), Pap test, and skin lesion pathology testing.
Why should I join if I already pay for health insurance?
Studies have shown that individuals with job-based health insurance pay around $3,000/year in out of pocket expenses; the co-pays, deductible, and inflated lab prices all add up in a traditional office. So, you may actually SAVE money by joining Bethlehem Direct Care!
You may find that changing to a high-deductible, lower premium plan at the next open enrollment period makes sense. What you save on your monthly premium may cover about a year of membership at our office.
With our increased access to care, you will hopefully avoid expensive urgent care visits.
With the elimination of any per visit fee, you may be more willing to seek care early, preventing more extensive illness or disease.
Plus, your insurance will still work like it always has at other places like the pharmacy, imaging center, hospital, or any specialist offices. We just won’t bill it from our office.
What if I have Medicare?
It is totally fine to keep your Medicare and even your supplement plan and still become a patient at Bethlehem Direct Care. Since Dr. Mark and Dr. Jill have “opted out” of the Medicare program, there is a special waiver that will need to be signed at enrollment, stating that you and the doctors will not attempt to get reimbursed by Medicare, but no other issues. And you’ll have access to an experienced physician with unrushed office visits to fully address all of your medical concerns.
Your Medicare will still work just as usual at other places like the pharmacy, imaging center, hospital, or any specialist offices. We just won’t bill it from our office.
What if I have Medicaid?
Our Medicaid system in North Carolina is currently in flux. Due to some of these changes, at this time there is some concern that Medicaid might not pair well with membership in a Direct Primary Care office such as ours. We will keep our eyes and ears on the situation and update our site when we have a more definitive answer.
What if I don’t have insurance?
No problem, since we wouldn’t bill it anyway! We will take care of you just like everyone else, with the care and respect that you deserve.
However we do encourage all patients to have some sort of catastrophic plan in place if at all possible, as a safety net so they’re covered in the event of a major health issue.
What if I participate in a Health Care Sharing Ministry or Plan?
What a wise decision! The Health Care Sharing Ministries or Plans like Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries, Christian HealthCare Ministries, and Sedera Medical Cost Sharing pair particularly well with a DPC practice like Bethlehem Direct Care. They provide that safety net in case you need surgery or hospitalization, and some may even offer reimbursement for all or part of your monthly or annual membership fees.
What if I’m generally healthy and only go to the doctor once or twice a year?
It’s wonderful that you are healthy! Let us help keep you that way! However, we never know when an unexpected illness or injury may strike. It is our hope that membership in Bethlehem Direct Care would provide a measure of comfort, just knowing that we will be here for you when you need us, without long waits or expensive Urgent Care charges. That peace of mind can be priceless.
What if I need to see a specialist?
Dr. Mark and Dr. Jill can still refer you to a specialist if needed. But our hope is that by spending more time with you, and having time even after your visit to research your symptoms, there will be less need for referrals. However, if referral is needed, we will choose the appropriate specialist carefully and communicate with them to get our questions answered and our concerns addressed.
What if I need to go in the hospital?
If you are sick or hurt badly enough to need the hospital, you typically will need the care of hospital specialists, or hospitalists. Dr. Mark and Dr. Jill will work closely with the physicians at whichever hospital you or your insurance company prefer. We will pick up your care again after you are discharged so there is continuity in all of your care.
What is NOT available at Bethlehem Direct Care?
We do not have x-ray capabilities at our office. The equipment is big and expensive and would require us to increase our costs. We can order x-ray, mammogram, and other radiology tests at any of the hospitals and imaging centers around. And we have negotiated reduced, cash-pay pricing at several locations for our patients. Oftentimes, even our patients with insurance find they pay less with these discounts!
We do not offer immunizations at this time. Pharmacies do such a good job with vaccines for adults, that there is no way we could save you money on them. Childhood vaccines are free at the Health Departments for uninsured children; insurance is billed for those with insurance. We will still advise you on the most recent recommendations for vaccines, and update the state registry for immunization tracking purposes.
We do not do pregnancy care, DOT physicals, or Workers’ Comp evaluations.
We are not a pain clinic. We do routinely make referrals to local Pain Clinics due to the heavy regulation of pain medications as well as the need for close monitoring.
We are not a walk-in clinic. We do offer same-day or next-day appointments for our own patients’ acute or urgent needs. But we do not offer urgent or one-time visits for non-members. We believe in long-term primary care relationships. It is what we do best!
What if I know someone who could really be helped by this type of office, but they can’t or won’t pay for it themselves?
Gift memberships are available! You may pay for a membership on behalf of someone you know who could benefit from this type of medical office. What better way to show someone that you care!