Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Direct practices lose 35 percent of enrollees, raise fees 23 percent

Each year, the OIC reports to the Legislature on the status of direct health care practices in Washington. A direct health care practice is an arrangement where a health care provider charges a patient a set monthly fee for primary health care services. The provider doesn’t bill the patient’s insurance for the services and only provides certain medical services in the office.

The December 2014 report contains data from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014, which is two fiscal years’ worth of information.

Some highlights from the report:
  • As of June 30, 2014 there were approximately 8,658 direct-practice patients in Washington at 29 practices around the state. Patient participation decreased by 35 percent from fiscal year 2013. Four new practices opened in Seattle, Camas and Centralia. Three practices closed in Spokane and Lakewood.
  • Monthly fees at direct practices ranged from $25 to more than $200. The most expensive was $910 per month. The average monthly fee weighted by the number of patients was $150.78, a 23 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.
  • The OIC received no consumer complaints regarding direct patient practices in fiscal year 2014.
The Affordable Care Act now requires health insurance plans to cover 10 essential health benefits, which include preventive services and chronic disease management. It also puts a cap on deductibles that consumers pay each year and direct practice fees do not count toward that yearly maximum. In addition, Washington expanded its Apple Health (Medicaid) program and the state’s individual health insurance market grew 30 percent in fiscal year 2014 to more than 327,000 people.

View the full report to the Legislature.