Direct primary care office set to open
HUNTINGTON - Cabell County’s first direct primary care office, which treats patients based on a monthly membership rather than billing insurance, is set to open June 12 in Barboursville’s River Place Plaza.
The small, independent On Call Direct Primary Care - staffed by just a receptionist, a clinical nurse, and owner Dr. Wayne Myles - joins the rising direct primary care trend, now numbering a few hundred providers across the country.
Patients pay an up-front membership fee entitling them to unlimited visits with no co-pays and 24/7 access to Myles personally through his phone, cell or email.
“I’ve heard people call this ‘authentic medicine,’ ” Myles said Friday from his still-remodeling office in Barboursville. “It’s a return to the day when a patient came in, they needed to be seen, the doctor took care of them, and everyone was happy.”
Myles’ totally-independent family practice does not bill insurance for any service, and has likewise opted out of Medicaid. He’s worked in family practice since 1999, but this is Myles’ first foray into the direct primary care model.
“I hate to call it ‘off-the-grid medicine,’ but it’s that sort of thing. It’s not having to work with the hassles of insurance and government and those things.”
But his day-to-day patient care remains the same as if the office were part of a larger health system, Myles said, and any service he can do in the office is covered under membership. This would include acute visits, annual wellness exams, lab testing, EKGs and skin biopsies. Myles is also an osteopathic physician, similar to a chiropractor, meaning he can also offer manipulation therapy, and can refer patients to outside specialists just the same.
Insurance billing procedures are also incredibly time-consuming for medical providers, he added, and stepping away from it creates time that can be spent elsewhere in his practice.
“This isn’t any different than what I’ve been doing over the past 20 years,” Myles said. “Just the billing is different.”
Myles expects to see between 600 and 700 patients - an intentional downscale from the more than 5,000 he’s seen in the past- though most are likely to have medical insurance. Those policies themselves, he continued, are in part driving membership in direct primary care.
“Nowadays, most people’s insurance policies have a very high deductible and even though we don’t call them catastrophic policies, they’re really there only for the big stuff,” Myles said.
Direct primary care could also be an option for small business owners who cannot provide their employees full coverage, he added, instead extending a discounted rate to businesses.
The maximum On Call will charge is $150 per month for a family of five. Individual adults pay a flat rate of $75 per month.