Dr. Vera Oyabure

Dr. Vera Oyabure of KarisMed Family Medicine examines patient Carolyn Loehr.

KATY (Covering Katy News) - High medical deductibles that healthy people never meet, a complicated health care system where patients get surprised by medical bills months after service was provided, and an impersonal system where doctors frequently feel rushed has given birth to a new system called “direct primary care.” It’s a system where patients pay a fixed monthly fee for routine visits and no insurance is involved.

Direct primary care is designed as an alternative to the managed care system most people use in the United States.

“The intention of the managed care system was meant to be promising, but over time it basically went out of control in terms of the way the health care system provided its services,” said Dr. Vera Oyabure, a direct primary care physician who has a practice located at 4011 FM 1463 in Katy. She has an approachable personality and prefers to be called Dr. Vera, rather than the more proper Dr. Oyabure.

“When the managed care system took over it changed the dynamics of the way people thought about health insurance.”

She said health insurance became more of an umbrella coverage compared to other insurance industries.

“When we talk of insurance, generally it means for catastrophic events. We’re not meant to use insurance as a coverall for everything that we need. You don’t use your car insurance to change your tires or change your oil; you use it when there is a catastrophic event (like a car accident). That was how medical insurance was supposed to be,” Dr. Vera said.

She says using health insurance for routine health maintenance, like lab tests and doctor visits, drives the price of coverage up for everyone.

“Utilize the insurance for where it is appropriate, catastrophic care, and utilize direct primary care for routine visits,” she said.

Direct primary care doctors charge a monthly fee and typically allow unlimited visits. Each DPC office sets its own rules, but there is often 24-7 access to a doctor, in person or by phone, and an annual comprehensive exam.

"It's concierge care without the high dollar concierge fees," said Dr. Thanh Ho Taylor of Foundation Primary Care,  21348 Provincial Boulevard in Katy. "By cutting out the middle man and administrative burdens, Dr. Taylor can spend her time on direct patient care," her website says. "Patients do not have to pay a deductible, co-insurance or copay fees."

DPC doctors frequently look for additional savings for their patients. There is often wholesale pricing on lab work and imaging.

“We’re able to negotiate directly with lab companies and imaging companies and therefore we can extend those discounts to our clients,” Dr. Vera said. “Patients have an 80 to 90% discount on labs and imaging.”

DPC physicians also frequently advise patients on how to purchase prescription drugs at discounted prices.

Physicians become a type of health care advocate, according to Dr. Vera. It’s a system that is fairly new to the market and will take time for the general public to understand. It’s even new for many in the halls of Congress.

“Give people a personal relationship with a high-functioning primary care doctor and people will be healthier and happier using the less expensive and scary parts of the health care system,” Direct Primary Care Coalition Chairman Garrison Bliss, M.D., said in a letter to members of Congress. “Along the way, we can save millions of dollars by reducing hospitalization and administrative costs, since nobody ever files a ‘claim’ to get paid for care.”

According to Dr. Bliss, direct primary care is becoming more popular.

“Since 2009, almost 1,200 new DPC practices have emerged, and employers, unions and even health plans now rely on DPC doctors to provide better care for their employees,” he said.

“Employers report their cost of providing health care goes down by as much as 20%. Patients love the care they get. Doctors love doing what they were trained to do instead of filling out insurance forms,” he told members of Congress.

Dr. Vera’s pricing starts at $99 per month with additional upcharges for family members. Each DPC practice sets their own fees, so clients should shop the marketplace and find a physician that is best for them and their family.

With a direct primary care physician, Dr. Vera says her clients don’t need to purchase a health insurance plan that covers everything. They can simply purchase coverage for major medical events.

“Direct primary care stems from the desire for doctors to bring back the personalized relationship with patients,” she said. “We want to bring back the patient and the physician relationship. We want to make primary care more accessible and more affordable.”

High medical deductibles that healthy people never meet, a complicated health care system where patients get surprised by medical bills months after service was provided, and an impersonal system where doctors frequently feel rushed has given birth to a new system called “direct primary care.” It’s a system where patients pay a fixed monthly fee for routine visits and no insurance is involved.

Direct primary care is designed as an alternative to the managed care system most people use in the United States.

“The intention of the managed care system was meant to be promising, but over time it basically went out of control in terms of the way the health care system provided its services,” said Dr. Vera Oyabure, a direct primary care physician who has a practice located at 4011 FM 1463 in Katy. She has an approachable personality and prefer to be called Dr. Vera, rather than the more proper Dr. Oyabure.

“When the managed care system took over it changed the dynamics of the way people thought about health insurance.”

She said health insurance became more of an umbrella coverage compared to other insurance industries.

“When we talk of insurance, generally it means for catastrophic events. We’re not meant to use insurance as a coverall for everything that we need. You don’t use your car insurance to change your tires or change your oil; you use it when there is a catastrophic event (like a car accident). That was how medical insurance was supposed to be,” Dr. Vera said.

She says using health insurance for routine health maintenance, like lab tests and doctor visits, drives the price of coverage up for everyone. 

“Utilize the insurance for where it is appropriate, catastrophic care, and utilize direct primary care for routine visits,” she said. 

Direct primary care doctors charge a monthly fee and typically allow unlimited visits. Each DPC office sets its own rules, but there is often 24-7 access to a doctor, in person or by phone, and an annual comprehensive exam.

"It's concierge care without the high dollar concierge fees," said Dr. Thanh Ho Taylor, who is also a DPC physician who has an office at 21348 Provincial Boulevard in Katy. "By cutting out the middle man and administrative burdens, Dr. Taylor can spend her time on direct patient care," her website says. "Patients do not have to pay a deductible, co-insurance or copay fees." 

DPC doctors frequently look for additional savings for their patients. There is often wholesale pricing on lab work and imaging. 

“We’re able to negotiate directly with lab companies and imaging companies and therefore we can extend those discounts to our clients,” Dr. Vera said. “They have an 80 to 90% discount on labs and imaging.”

DPC physicians also frequently advise patients on how to purchase prescription drugs at discounted prices. 

Physicians become a type of health care advocate, according to Dr. Vera. It’s a system that is fairly new to the market and will take time for the general public to understand. It’s even new for many in the halls of Congress.

“Give people a personal relationship with a high-functioning primary care doctor and people will be healthier and happier using the less expensive and scary parts of the health care system,” Direct Primary Care Coalition Chairman Garrison Bliss, M.D., said in a letter to members of Congress. “Along the way, we can save millions of dollars by reducing hospitalization and administrative costs, since nobody ever files a ‘claim’ to get paid for care.”

According to Dr. Bliss, direct primary care is becoming more popular.

“Since 2009, almost 1,200 new DPC practices have emerged, and employers, unions and even health plans now rely on DPC doctors to provide better care for their employees,” he said.

“Employers report their cost of providing health care goes down by as much as 20%. Patients love the care they get. Doctors love doing what they were trained to do instead of filling out insurance forms,” he told members of Congress.

Dr. Vera’s pricing starts at $99 per month with additional upcharges for family members.  Each DPC practice sets their own fees, so clients should shop the marketplace and find a physician that is best for them and their family. 

With a direct primary care physician, Dr. Vera says her clients don’t need to purchase a health insurance plan that covers everything. They can simply purchase coverage for major medical events.

“Direct primary care stems from the desire for doctors to bring back the personalized relationship with patients,” she said. “We want to bring back the patient and the physician relationship. We want to make primary care more accessible and more affordable.”

Website for Dr. Vera: KarisMed.com

Website for Foundation Primary Care: FoundationPrimaryCare.com

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