Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine – What’s the Difference?

The Difference Between Concierge Medicine and Direct Primary Care

Direct primary care (DPC) is a term often linked to its companion in health care, ‘concierge medicine.’ Although the two terms are similar and belong to the same family, concierge medicine is a term that fully embraces or ‘includes’ many different health care delivery models, direct primary care being one of them.


DPC practices, similar in philosophy to their concierge medicine lineage – bypass insurance and go for a more ‘direct’ financial relationship with patients and also provide comprehensive care and preventive services for an affordable fee. However, DPC is only one branch in the family tree of concierge medicine.

DPC, like concierge health care practices, remove many of the financial barriers to ‘accessing’ care whenever care is needed. There are no insurance co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance fees. DPC practices also do not typically accept insurance payments, thus avoiding the overhead and complexity of maintaining relationships with insurers, which can consume as much as $0.40 of each medical dollar spent (See Sources Below).


According to sources (see below) DPC is a ‘mass-market variant of concierge medicine, distinguished by its low prices.’ Simply stated, the biggest difference between ‘direct primary care’ and retainer based practices is that DPC takes a low, flat rate fee whereas omodels, (although plans may vary by practice) – usually charge an annual retainer fee and promise more ‘access’ to the doctor.

According to Concierge Medicine Today (MDNewsToday), the first official news outlet for this marketplace, both health care delivery models are providing affordable, cost-effective health care to thousands of patients across the U.S. MDNewsToday is also the only known organization that is officially tracking and collecting data on these practices and the physicians — including the precise number of concierge physicians and practices throughout the U.S.

“This primary care business model [direct primary care] gives these type of providers the time to deliver more personalized care to their patients and pursue a comprehensive medical home approach,” said Norm Wu, CEO of Qliance Medical Management based in Seattle, Washington. “One in which the provider’s incentives are fully aligned with the patient’s incentives.”

References and Sources

“Doc This Way!: Tech-Savvy Patients and Pros Work Up Healthcare 2.0”. New York Post. 4/7/2009.

Who Killed Marcus Welby? from Seattle’s The Stranger, 1/23/2008

“Direct Medical Practice – The Uninsured Solution to the Primary Medical Care Mess” with Dr. Garrison Bliss (Qliance Medical Group of WA).

“Direct Primary Care: A New Brew In Seattle”. Harvard Medical School – WebWeekly. 2008-03-03.

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