Direct Primary Care practices have been offering Americans a cheaper health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Our Erin Billups filed the following report.
Physician John Muney started seeing patients drop their insurance when the 2008 financial crisis hit.
"They couldn’t afford it," said Dr. John Muney, AMG Medical Group president.
So that year Muney launched AMG Medical Group, what's called a Direct Primary Care practice or DPC, one of the few in the City.
Patients pay $89 a month for access to a broad range of services with no co-pays, from annual check-ups to minor surgeries.
"We can open abscess, we can suture lacerations. If people cut themselves, they walk in," says Muney.
Hunter Hackney says it's the kind of healthcare experience he's always wanted.
"Any other doctor, comes in, what's wrong, touches you a few times, writes a prescription and leaves. I feel like a lot of doctors are being rushed," says Hunter Hackney, an AMG patient.
He gets insurance through his employer just in case something catastrophic happens, but if he didn't, he says he would pay the Obamacare penalty.
"The legislation right now is forcing people that don't really even need insurance to buy it. So this is a great way to have it," he said. "You know you don't want to spend $400 to 500 a month on insurance that you're not going to use," says Hackney.
It's exactly what insurance providers don't want to hear. To be successful, the health exchanges need a mix of young, old, healthy and sick.
But Muney says the direct pay model can work with insurance companies.
He's partnered with one insurer already that pays its members' monthly fees.
"Now if you go to the emergency room, under the Affordable Care act, you have $3,000 deductible and if the emergency room visit is $2,000 that's yours. They come to us, we take care of them and zero payment," says Muney.
AMG now has a practice in each borough and one on Long Island, with 1,500 patients and growing.
Dr. Muney's goals for expansion aren't just limited to NYC. He hopes to see this care model grow across the country and has been lobbying in Washington to do just that.
"We want this direct primary care to be a payment model, as well, through Medicare and Medicaid, insurance companies or health savings accounts," says Muney.
The DPC model is just one form of care that has developed as the country struggles to figure out what works best.