This Doctor Wants to Change Health Care to Give People Quality Over Quantity

Health care is a hot-button issue because it directly affects people’s lives. But is there a better approach than debating which government health care system is the least burdensome on Americans?

Dr. Ryan Neuhofel opened NeuCare in 2011, a “direct primary care” facility that uses a subscription-based model instead of health insurance. Patients can sign up and pay a flat monthly fee for comprehensive health services.

This model lets the patient be the true customer instead of an insurance company or the government.

“Whenever you enter into these direct relationships, it changes the way that the doctor thinks about things, it changes the way the patient does, and it inherently provides transparency,” Neuhofel said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: So if you're like the average American, you are having problems paying for your health insurance. You are having problems keeping your doctor. You don't know what to do. Nobody in Washington is making any sense. It doesn't seem like anybody is doing anything at all.

What do you do? Well, if you're a doctor, there are things that you can do. And I want to introduce you to a guy who I read about a couple weeks ago. Dr. Ryan Neuhofel. Am I saying your name right, Dr. Neuhofel?

RYAN: That's correct, Glenn.

GLENN: So tell us what you're doing, because you've decided that you've had enough of this. And you're in, if I'm not mistaken, Lawrence Kansas.

RYAN: Right.

GLENN: And you knew that people weren't being served. And you were no longer even a doctor, you were more of a paper pusher. So what did you do?

RYAN: Well, I started a practice about six years. So I guess you could say I got fed up a long time ago, even when I was in medical school. And so I operate in a pretty unique model of practice that is growing around the country, called Direct Primary Care. And basically what that is, is it allows patients to have a direct and simple relationship with me, their primary care doctor. It's organized around a membership fee, much like Netflix or a gym. And we're just able to serve people's needs in an innovative way and not be distracted by all the bullcrap that comes along by a normal system.

GLENN: So you're not -- you don't take insurance.

RYAN: No.

GLENN: And so how much is the monthly fee?

RYAN: So on average, my monthly fee for all of my patients combined is about $43 per member, per month. So some people pay a little more. Some people a little less. Families get a discount. And doctors around the country are doing this. And it's not just a few of us rogue people anymore. There's hundreds and maybe close to a thousand primary care physicians doing this model or something very similar to it.

GLENN: I will tell you that I have -- you know, I still try to purchase the best health insurance that money can buy for my employees and for myself for catastrophic. But I -- this is the system that I use. I have a doctor, and I pay him a -- you know, a retainer, I guess. And I can go see him when I want to go see him.

And I'm -- I'm glad that this is starting to come around, because the one thing that is good about this, is when you are paying for yourself, the doctor doesn't just say, oh, go here to get this done. You know, he -- he knows which tests cost the most money where, and where you can get them inexpensive. You know, an inexpensive run of that test.

Do you provide that as well?

RYAN: Yeah, absolutely. I think it changes the whole dynamic. If you really look at it, although doctors are really caring people. And trying to serve people and provide them great care. Ultimately, if you're using insurance, the insurance company or the government, if you're in a program like that, is the real customer. So the patient, at that point is kind of a building vessel of sorts. And whenever you enter into these direct relationships, it changes the way that the doctor thinks about things. It changes the way the patient does. It inherently provides transparency. So I'm working for my patients now, as opposed to a third party.

GLENN: So explain that to the average person. Because I think the average person knows this. When you hear your doctor say, are you insured? Who is your insurance provider?

What they're asking you -- and correct me if I'm wrong, what they're asking you is, I know the insurance providers, and some of them accept some things. Some don't accept others. And so I just need to navigate and how to write, instead of now -- you know, you don't have insurance. If you don't have insurance, your doctor says, okay. So here are the options. And it's -- it's never just, you know, here's a 3,000-dollar test.

RYAN: Yeah, well, I think the thing that's most difficult for people is actually the language. So people across the political spectrum use terminology like health insurance and health care. And they don't even really make a distinction between what those two things mean.

So you hear a lot of politicians talk, they'll say, you know, we're giving you health care. Well, they're kind of giving you an insurance product that gives you a network of doctors. But that gets all very confusing.

So what we're doing is we're stripping away all of that stuff. And much like if someone were purchasing food or something else in their life, you know, they -- I am serving my customers, my patients, and I have to be fully transparent in that. So we're very aware of what stuff costs, whereas if I was billing an insurance company, it's kind of just backwards stuff. And there's a bunch of complicated contracts. So, yeah, it's a totally different way to approach health care.

GLENN: So this is good if you're the run-of-the-mill, you know, I've got the sniffles. I've got the cold. Even a broken arm. Et cetera, et cetera. But what happens to your patients when you can't deal with it. They've got to go to a specialist, and it's going to be expensive.

RYAN: Well, you know, I think one of the big downsides of the system that we have, is it's devalued primary care to such a degree that most people don't really recognize the family physician, like myself, can take care of a lot of really complicated stuff.

So I do take care of a very broad spectrum of stuff. And I think in the normal system because doctors are so rushed and we don't get to spend time with our patients, we're paid on a volume basis. That we often do end up ordering stuff and referring people to specialists, when we could have taken care of it ourselves. But, you know, we're trying to get to the next patient. So I think that's the first thing to recognize, is that primary care get done correctly and valued high enough, that we could provide more service.

But really, what you're getting to, is there is a point, where financially insurance starts to make sense. What I think we're challenging is doing most people's health care across the spectrum of care, to a third party doesn't make a lot of sense. So, yeah, there is a point where insurance makes sense. But is that $100? Is that $1,000? Is that at $10,000? It kind of depends on the person.

STU: Talking to Dr. Ryan Neuhofel. Doctor, you have -- this is a great idea. And I think everyone looks at this and says, wow, this would be a perfect way to knock out 90 percent of the stuff that could happen as far as health care goes. It seems to me though that the current system would really discourage this. You're going to get fined if you don't have insurance and you decide to go this way. I mean, how are you dealing with that? And is this a problem with a lot of the patients that you have?

RYAN: Yeah. I'm not advocating that people not have insurance. In fact, I do the opposite. I think insurance makes sense for certain things. A great analogy, if we tried to use car insurance to cover everything related to our car --

GLENN: Oil changes.

RYAN: -- if we tried to use it to pay for our gas, oil changes, tire rotations, you know, shampooing our carpets in our car, that wouldn't make a lot of sense. Now, if our car gets totaled and it costs $20,000 to get replaced, that tradeoff with insurance makes sense. And the same thing with homeowner's insurance.

So, yeah, there needs to be a safety net and insurance policy of some type. Whether that's government-based, private-based, to where that makes sense.

Right now, in the current system, because of all of the mandates, they're basically -- you know, the ACA and many things before it are forcing people to pay a third party. A financial institution, which we call it an insurance company, to kind of manage all their money for them. And I think clearly that's led to many of the ills in our current health care system.

STU: Because it's more than just not having insurance at all. It's all the restrictions they put on higher deductible plans. There's so many things that must be covered by these insurance policies. I mean, if you could combine what you're doing, a monthly fee, you can go when you need to go, with a high deductible plan, for only the worst catastrophic stuff, that is a great formula for a family. But it's really discouraged right now.

RYAN: Well, yeah, you can get -- in fact -- and I'm sure your audience will tell you this. They had been forced into a high deductible. So a lot of the patients we're serving, you know, end up getting a bronze plan, or their employer switches them to a plan with a high deductible, they really start seeing the value and transparency and up front prices. And, you know, not overpaying for things.

So, yes, in a sense, I think we should move to kind of a more true catastrophic system. And I think that could be done in a lot of ways.

But, you know, our entire health care system is built upon kind of an understanding of what health care was looking like in 1930, through 1970. And, you know, health care is a much more integral part of our lives now. People have chronic diseases they live with their entire lives with. And 1960, whenever we developed Medicare and Medicaid and even going back further, you know, health care really couldn't do a whole lot. It could kind of do surgery to save you, but I think health care right now looks so much different. We're trying to fit a round peg in a square hole at this point.

GLENN: So neucare.net. NU -- I'm sorry. N-E-Ucare.net is the address if you would like to find out more.

How does somebody find somebody in your local area like you? What do you even look for?

RYAN: Yeah. Actually, there's a really great resource now online. The best one that I direct people to is called DPCfrontier.com. And there's a mapper on that website. So if you click FlashMapper, there's about a thousand doctors around the country, six to 800 practices, who are operating at a very similar model to mine. They all have their own kind of flavor of it. But if you're looking for a doctor in your area, that's by far the best resource to look for. Or you can Google -- Google if you Google direct primary care in your city, you'll probably stumble upon somebody.

GLENN: Great. Dr. Ryan Neuhofel. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Good work. God bless.

(music)

STU: So Dr. Ryan Neuhofel is at Neucare. N-E-U-C-A-R-E on Twitter. And Neucare.net is his website. But, yeah, DPC Frontier is a cool site. I've never been to this before. Direct Primary Care. DPC Frontier. And they have a map of all of the doctors that do this type of thing. And there's a lot of them. Worth checking out.

GLENN: I have to tell you, it's a different kind of health care.

STU: You do this?

GLENN: I do. I do.

STU: That's really cool.

GLENN: Because I -- the doctor is allowed to spend more time with you. The doctor gets to know you better. Because he's not -- like he said, he's not rushing through things. He doesn't have all the paperwork to do. He doesn't have to worry about that. So we'll get a call from our doctor. We'll call him up and say, hey, this is going on with the family. Blah, blah. And then he'll call. He'll treat. And then, you know, he'll call -- you know, 8 o'clock on a -- you know, on a Friday night, and go, hey, I'm just thinking about Raphe. How is he feeling? What's going on?

And so it's like that old style medicine.

STU: You don't to have hang out with him, do you? You don't have to go to his Christmas parties or anything like that?

GLENN: No, you don't have to. No, you don't have to.

STU: Just wanted to make sure. I've got enough relationships.

GLENN: I do know that. I do know that. But it's nice to be able to have a doctor who has the time to actually get to know the family.

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Watch the full episode below:

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"We're fine with taking the hits. We always take the hits, it's part of being a prominent conservative group. We'll take the hits, but we won't let people lie," Matt said.

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Watch the video below to hear more from Glenn:


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