Post Index (reverse chronological)

Paying for Primary Care with Insurance Makes Considerable Sense

The missing part 5 of Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, a comment. Under the traditional insurance model, patients may incur some administrative costs but also gain financial advantages that Gayle Brekke’s multipart “Paying for Primary Care” series fails to recognize, ignores, or minimizes. At the top of the list, insurers bring the combined strength ofContinue reading “Paying for Primary Care with Insurance Makes Considerable Sense”

Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 4

In the first three installments of her Paying for Primary Care series, actuary Gayle Brekke’s invoked actuarial principles and behavioral economics to scold coverage of primary care on the ground that the costs of primary care are “predictable, routine, likely events over which the customer has a great deal of control”. In her fourth installment,Continue reading “Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 4″

Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 3

In Part 3 of Paying for Primary Care, Gayle Brekke discourses on the behavioral economics of shared health cost arrangements to conclude that insuring primary care adds costs not seen in direct pay. These cost, she contends, simply add on to the 50% administrative cost burden of insurance she had already she had already declaredContinue reading “Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 3″

Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 2

In Part 1 of “Paying for Primary Care”, actuary Gayle Brekke (mis)computed the provider side administrative cost burden of paying insurance at about 28%; in a response, I showed it likely that the true number was less than 9%, indicting that Brekke had inflated by more than three fold. Now we turn to Brekke’s PartContinue reading “Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 2″

Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 1

Health Care Cost Institute data presenting the 2017 primary care costs of millions of insureds shows an average annual primary care spend for 25-50 year olds of just less than $450. For the same period, the cost of a direct primary care for same-aged subscribers was $900. Although you might consider direct primary care forContinue reading “Brekke’s “Paying for Primary Care”, Comment on Part 1″

DPC, one year after receiving a heart transplant, prepares to have old heart reimplanted.

I’m old enough to remember pro-DPC advocacy focussed on the long, in person, face-to-face primary care visits, the very “heart of direct primary care”. Surely that’s what motivated Doctor Steve Springer when he proudly opened Southwest Louisiana’s first direct primary care clinic. I say this because it certainly wasn’t telehealth Springer had in mind. AfterContinue reading “DPC, one year after receiving a heart transplant, prepares to have old heart reimplanted.”

Do economic forces lead to healthier patients self-selecting to member- funded DPC practice?

Yes. And, favorable selection to member-funded DPC is likely even greater than that already actuarially documented for employer funded DPC. [D]o economic forces lead to healthier patients self-selecting to a DPC practice? . . . . . . The value proposition for chronically ill patients– needing frequent visits and savings on ancillary services (labs, meds,Continue reading “Do economic forces lead to healthier patients self-selecting to member- funded DPC practice?”

Fauxtrage

While strongly endorsing direct primary care, the AAFP’s May 25, 2018 position statement to CMS on direct provider contractor models invoked the structural risk that the prevailing fee for service primary care practice model incentivizes the provision of unnecessary primary care services. As yet, the fee for service primary care physicians who comprise the vastContinue reading “Fauxtrage”

New DPC leader is incredible – unfortunately, not in the good way.

Let’s meet Cladogh Ryan MD, one of the new board members for DPC Alliance for 2021 who picked up the torch from some of those golden oldies. Dr Ryan cranked up a town meeting style event to recruit some of her Cook County, IL, fee-for-service patients into her new enterprise, Cara Direct Care. She layedContinue reading “New DPC leader is incredible – unfortunately, not in the good way.”

Nextera and Paladina: a race to the top of Mount Brag

In 2015, Qliance still towered over all in the Direct Primary Care Bragging World with its claim of 20% overall cost reductions. Even that, of course, was quite a come down from the extravagant claims previously spewed under the Qliance banner; fond memories still linger of those heady days when the Heritage Foundation drooled overContinue reading “Nextera and Paladina: a race to the top of Mount Brag”

In rural areas, decreased primary care panel size is a problem, not a solution.

Montana’s last governor twice vetoed DPC legislation. He was not wrong. Over the last month or so, DPC advocates from think-tanks of the right have trotted out the proposition that direct primary care could be “the key to addressing disparities in health care access in underserved areas of Montana facing severe shortages of primary care”.Continue reading “In rural areas, decreased primary care panel size is a problem, not a solution.”

Shorter KPI Ninja/Nextera SVVSD report

“We used a statistically valid risk measurement tool and determined that there was a a non-Nextera population had a 7.5% difference greater level of risk then our Nextera population. But don’t believe that result, because it was not statistically valid.” “We reduced inpatient hospital 92.7%. Want to know how great we are? Our statistically validContinue reading “Shorter KPI Ninja/Nextera SVVSD report”

Nextera brags about THIS? Really?

In its recent report from KPI Ninja, Nextera Healthcare bragged unpersuasively about overall costs savings and reduced utilization of downstream care services. But they also bragged about the following utilization figures for a group of 754 members for whose primary care they were paid $580,868 in DPC subscription fees over the equivalent of a ten-monthContinue reading “Nextera brags about THIS? Really?”

KPI Ninja/Nextera report: every single cost comparison has a 10% benefit design error.

In KPI Ninja’s “School District Claims Analysis” comparing claims costs under the Nextera plan and the competing fee for service (Choice) plan, the “Analyst” overlooked two major differences between the plans in how the “School District” pays “Claims“.   Nextera members pay post-deductible coinsurance at a 20% rate and the district pays an 80% share. ButContinue reading “KPI Ninja/Nextera report: every single cost comparison has a 10% benefit design error.”

KPI Ninja’s Nextera risk measurement charade

Abstract: The Nextera “study” by KPI Ninja misappropriated the prestige of a Johns Hopkins research team to support its risk measurement claims; relied on an undisclosed and unvalidated methodology for obtaining population risk measurements; obtained highly dubious risk measurement results; and sharply mischaracterized the significance of those results. In the end, because applying even theirContinue reading “KPI Ninja’s Nextera risk measurement charade”

KPI Ninja’s Nextera analysis: more than enough problems.

Three major adjustments are needed, even without correcting the IP admit rate problem or arriving at a more reasonable risk adjustment. Comparing data from Nextera patients and non-Nextera patients in the SVVSD programs requires three major adjustments which KPI Ninja never attempted. Computations here. Because of the different benefit structures, the district’s claim costs forContinue reading “KPI Ninja’s Nextera analysis: more than enough problems.”

FFS primary care is higher quality than DPC. “Proved.”

One pet theme of most D-PCPs is, “Who can better determine quality better than my patient?”, a question invariably coupled to its speaker’s brag about a high patient retention rate. And yet, in the Union County employee DPC clinic study, the actuaries observed a huge risk selection bias against the DPC, enough to require aContinue reading “FFS primary care is higher quality than DPC. “Proved.””

DPC’s narratives can be just as misleading as their quantitative studies.

Advocates for the DPC movement have many stories to tell the public about how great DPC is. Some of their most potent narratives, however, are as misleading as their slew of quantitative studies. One root cause is that DPC advocates seem unable to imagine anyone else being as clever as they are. The ur-brag ofContinue reading “DPC’s narratives can be just as misleading as their quantitative studies.”

KPI Ninja’s Nextera study: a “single blunder” introduction

The KPI Ninja report on Nextera’s school district program claims big savings when employees chose Nextera’s direct primary care rather than traditional primary care. But the analysis reflects inadequacy of a high order. Here’s a starter course of cluelessness, actually one the report’s smaller problems. The report ignored the effect of an HRA made availableContinue reading “KPI Ninja’s Nextera study: a “single blunder” introduction”

Nextera did not reduce inpatient hospital admissions by 92.7%.

Abstract: KPI Ninja’s report on Nextera’s direct primary care plan for employees of a Colorado school district clinic claims profoundly good results: nearly $1000 per year in savings for every Nextera clinic member and a staggering 92.7% reduction in inpatient hospital admissions. Both claims rest on the proposition that a population of middle-aged. middle-class, white-color,Continue reading “Nextera did not reduce inpatient hospital admissions by 92.7%.”

Nextera’s Next Era in Cherry-Picking Machine Design

Note: revised and redated for proximity to related material. Original version June 27, 2020. In June of 2020, Nextera HealthCare had a hot new brag: These results were not risk adjusted. But they desperately needed to be. The St Vrain Valley School District had this health benefit structure for its employees during the period studied:Continue reading “Nextera’s Next Era in Cherry-Picking Machine Design”

Medi-Share gives its Christian take on DPC downstream cost savings: $31 — a year.

Christian Care Ministry (“Medi-Share”), whose 400,000 members account for more than a quarter of health cost sharing members nationally, recently acted to allow some of its members to receive credit for their entire direct primary care membership fees up to $1800 per year. That there is a certain synergy between DPC and health cost sharingContinue reading “Medi-Share gives its Christian take on DPC downstream cost savings: $31 — a year.”

HSA breaks for DPC defeat the purpose of HSA breaks

HSAs are intended to encourage more cost-conscious spending by placing more of the health care financing burden on out-of-pocket spending by the users of services, as opposed to having the costs of those services incorporated in payments shared over a wider group of plan enrollees regardless of service use. H/T Blumberg and Cope. HSAs areContinue reading “HSA breaks for DPC defeat the purpose of HSA breaks”

Helping those patients most dependent on DPC means defeating the DPC/HDHP/HSA “fix”.

Plus, two more reasons to reject the “fix”. Direct Primary care clinicians and advocates often point out, accurately, that they serve a broad socio-economic range of patients. The range is well illustrated by a pair of oft-appearing themes, “concierge care for the middle class” and “affordable care for those who fall between the cracks”. InContinue reading “Helping those patients most dependent on DPC means defeating the DPC/HDHP/HSA “fix”.”

DPC is way different than you paying Neflix. Notes

The State of New York has the financial capital of the country (arguably the world), has the most insurance companies in the country, and was the biggest state for the longest time. For these reasons it is generally looked to for leadership in the law on financial subjects primarily governed by state law. Here’s theirContinue reading “DPC is way different than you paying Neflix. Notes”

DPC subscriptions transfer financial risk.

Identifying DPC nonsense does not require a law degree. Watch out. Near you is a direct primary care advocate begging a legislator or regulator to make his medical practice less accountable. He is stomping his feet very, very hard and he’s shouting “This is not insurance”, “There is no risk being transferred”, or “My practiceContinue reading “DPC subscriptions transfer financial risk.”

DPC cherry-picking: the defense speaks. Part 1.

Jump to Part 2. Within days of the Milliman report warning of the “imperative to control for patient selection in DPC studies [lest] differences in cost due to underlying patient differences [] be erroneously assigned as differences caused by DPC”, the first rumbling of resistance from the DPC advocacy community emerged. This was a suggestion,Continue reading “DPC cherry-picking: the defense speaks. Part 1.”

Milliman: A $60 PMPM DPC fee buys an employer a zero ROI.

An actuarial study brings employer direct primary care to a turning point. Milliman’s actuaries insisted that DPC cost reduction data without risk adjustment is essentially worthless. A second prong of Milliman’s analysis suggested that the direct primary care model is associated with a 12.6% over-all reduction in health services utilization*. Then, working from that number,Continue reading “Milliman: A $60 PMPM DPC fee buys an employer a zero ROI.”

DPC ultimate goal: capitation without accountability?

Allowing an HSA holder to use pre-tax dollars to buy subscriptions only gets DPC operators so far. The HSA holders would still notice that their paid subscription fees will not actually make a dent in meeting their insurance deductible. DPC advocates will then reprise their perennial theme song, “Insurer’s conditions on payment interfere with theContinue reading “DPC ultimate goal: capitation without accountability?”

Downstream consequences when employers fall for non-risk-adjusted data brags.

Do you remember when Union County’s three year DPC commitment for 2016-2018 was claimed to be saving Union County $1.25 Million per year? So why did Union County’s health benefits expenditure rise twice as fast as can be explained by the combined effect of medical price inflation* and workforce growth? For the first year orContinue reading “Downstream consequences when employers fall for non-risk-adjusted data brags.”

Medicare, dual coverage, and opt-out. The cherry on top of the cherry-picking machine for employer-based direct primary care.

In 2016, the share of people between 65 and 74 who were still working was over 25%. Any of them working at employers with more than twenty employees covered by group health plans are required by law to be included in the employer’s plan. They may also enroll in Medicare Part B. Some employer plansContinue reading “Medicare, dual coverage, and opt-out. The cherry on top of the cherry-picking machine for employer-based direct primary care.”

Two new DPC brags failed to show bona fide risk-adjusted savings; together, they make clear that DPC brags rely on cherry-picking.

Two recent DPC brags fit together in a telling way. Nextera Healthcare reported non-risk-adjusted claims data indicating that employees of a Colorado school district who selected Nextera’s DPC option had total costs that were 30% lower than those who selected a traditional insurance option. But that employer’s benefit package confers huge cash advantages (up toContinue reading “Two new DPC brags failed to show bona fide risk-adjusted savings; together, they make clear that DPC brags rely on cherry-picking.”

Nothing huge, but a possible small win for DirectAccessMD cost reduction claims.

The DirectAccessMD clinic that serves the employees of Anderson County, SC, is run by a tireless advocate for, and deep believer in DPC, Dr J Shane Purcell. Here the employer, with Dr Purcell’s apparent support, has taken steps that seems to have somewhat mitigated the selection bias that is baked into most other direct primaryContinue reading “Nothing huge, but a possible small win for DirectAccessMD cost reduction claims.”

Do bears sh. . .ake cherries out of trees? Selection pressure is built into DPC choices for any population with a normal deductible.

At last, it dawns on me. Selection bias is baked into virtually every DPC cake.* Direct primary care usually comes with a significant price and a package of financial incentives revolving around primary care (and, sometimes, around some downstream care). For some, the game may be worth the candle. The incentives, typically the absence ofContinue reading “Do bears sh. . .ake cherries out of trees? Selection pressure is built into DPC choices for any population with a normal deductible.”

Epiphany. Dr Gross’s risk adjustment metholodogy for direct primary care stands contrary to contemporary understandings of how to assess the relative expected costs of differing populations.

Dr. Lee Gross’s Epiphany Healthcare provides DPC services for some of the employees and some members of of some of their families at a hospital in Florida. Some hospital employees decline Epiphany; they and some members of their families receive instead traditional insurance based primary care. Unusually for such arrangements, a recent assessment of theContinue reading “Epiphany. Dr Gross’s risk adjustment metholodogy for direct primary care stands contrary to contemporary understandings of how to assess the relative expected costs of differing populations.”

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