Doctor Wants to Kill Netflix by Pat Conrad MD

Hey, does this sound familiar?  Just up the road from King Doug in Lynchburg, another Direct Primary Care spark has flamed up in the region.  Dr. Maura McLaughlin has a DPC practice in Charlottesville, Virginia, “one of nearly 700 nationwide.”

Here is some info from her website:

“Ages 0-30 years: $30/month, discounted to $15/month if enrolled with a parent.  Ages 31 years and up: $60/month”

What does that get you?

Clinic visits for chronic and acute problems; reduced labs pricing; preventive care for adults and children, and GYN care; certain procedures “for cost of supplies ($20)”; nights and weekend physician access, and “Treatment over the phone when medically appropriate”; home visits for an additional fee (and free for newborns and hospital follow-ups).

And I just love this quote: “The model itself works sort of like Netflix,” Dr. McLaughlin says.  “They can use the services here as often as they need to.”

“Chuck Gulat isn’t rushed when he sees his primary care doctor. He comes as often as he wants, and doesn’t need insurance to pay for it … Patients like Gulat are still encouraged to carry a lower cost insurance plan to cover medical emergencies …  Gulat comes every three months for his high blood pressure and diabetes.  ‘Hands down, it’s made me physically healthier, and financially healthier.’  He’s now saving about $1,300 a year.”

The patient is happier and has more money in his pocket.  The doctor is happier, and doubtless giving better care (arguably a chicken-egg question, so feel free to debate).

I like Netflix.  I like convenience, and knowing exactly what I’m paying and exactly what I’m getting.  And I like competition, and knowing that I can discontinue something I don’t like.  I like choices.  Who could possibly argue against this?

“Critics, like Dr. Ed Weisbart with Physicians for a National Health Program”, that’s who.  Weisbart is quoted in the lead article wringing his hands over what he believes will be a growing shortage of primary care doctors, “since these [DPC] doctors see fewer patients.  Also, high deductible plans leave specialists uncovered.”

“That opens the door to this huge range of medical problems, that fall in-between the catastrophe and primary care.”  So is Weisbart just another Stockholm-Syndrome, hapless family doc beaten into submission and lack of imagination by a crushing system?  Not exactly.

Weisbart is a nationally recognized advocate for single-payer health, who “now volunteers in a variety of safety-net clinics in the St. Louis area and is also assistant professor of clinical medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.”  Now a humble volunteer and academic, he once was once a practicing family doc for 20 years, just a simple, altruistic, if misguided remnant of a noble profession, right?  Not exactly.

In 2003 he left his practice “to become chief medical officer at Express Scripts, a Fortune 100 Company. After retiring from that position in 2010, he began organizing the St. Louis chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, which he currently chairs.”

Whoa, whoa, let’s back up.  This expert on how other doctors should make a living himself RETIRED from a Fortune 100 company??   So the guy that advocates a system that will trap physicians into a greater web of government mandates, himself escaped from primary care to turn what I imagine was some pretty good coin, before returning to academia and the volunteer life.  But didn’t his time at Express Scripts reduce his availability as a primary care doc during a time of worsening shortage?

Yes Weisbart, if there is any good left in medicine, thinking physicians like Maura McLaughlin will add to the growing rolls of DPC practices, and definitely worsen the shortage of your preferred kind of primary care docs.  The McLaughlin’s and Farago’s of the world are increasing patient satisfaction, providing better care, and leading happier lives.   You Prof. Weisbart want doctors dragged back into a despair pit of increased workloads, flat wages, more meaningless administrative data gathering, anger, depression, and health commissars telling everyone what to do.

While Direct Primary Care is offering the next Netflix, you want to force us all to go back to watching PBS.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  3 comments for “Doctor Wants to Kill Netflix by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Benjamin Van Raalte
    November 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Yes typical Liberal hypocrite. I am rich, so now I feel guilty and YOU should share.
    Based on SEC reports here is the executive BASE compensation For Express Scripts

    2016 Timothy C. Wentworth 14.52 million
    George Paz 11.92 million
    Eric Slusser 4.52 million
    Christine Houston 3.44 million
    Neal Sample 4.38 million
    David A. Queller 3.36 milion

    That does not include stock options. There are 5 million stock options outstanding to the employees with roughly 70% to the top leadership
    Stock price went from $100 to $300 during the period of 2003 to 2010
    Since Dr. Weisbart conservatively got roughly 20000 stock options during that period, and most likely much more he cashed in for 6 million in stock options plus compensation that probably averaged 1 million a year (I was unable to find his published data as Chief Medical Officer.
    But he certainly hob nobbed with people who are making 14 MILLION a year for health care paper pushing and siphoning off the top, and make much more with options.

    • Perry
      November 20, 2017 at 8:41 am

      So is Dr. Weisbart doing charity medical care now? I sort of doubt it.

  2. November 19, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Pat and Doug,

    Kudos on a great column!

    It’s guys like Weisbart, right up here with Slavitt and Emanuel if you ask me, that are ruining Primary Care!

    With close to 1,000 docs and half a million patients enjoying true primary care via DPC, he couldn’t be any more of a polar opposite with his insurance cartel and big pharma funded PNHP.

    Big time sellout if you ask me.

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