Amidst a sensitive economic climate, rising healthcare costs are yet another concern among many Americans. In a 2021 consumer survey conducted by Hint Health, 63% of respondents reported that their primary complaint about healthcare was its high cost. Insurance premiums have continued to rise, heavily outpacing income. Since then, inflation has stretched budgets even thinner and consumers have even less to spend on healthcare.
The Trends in Direct Primary Care 2022 report conducted an analysis comparing change in annual cost for an individual direct primary care membership to change in household income¹ from 2017 to 2020. During this period, the median monthly price for a retail DPC membership remained steady at $75-$77 while incomes rose about 10%. "In 2021, the median price an employer paid for a monthly DPC membership for a family of four was $158."
After three consecutive years at $75, an updated analysis recently found that DPC providers may finally be increasing their membership prices. In 2021, the median cost for a DPC membership rose for the first time in over five years from $75 to $79, a 5% increase.
So far in 2022, the median individual membership price has settled at $80 per month. These pricing adjustments are consistent with long term inflation rates – that $75 in 2018 has the same buying power as about $80 in 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index. Not accounting for inflation, to the consumer, this is a $60 increase in healthcare spend per year; to the DPC provider with a panel of 400-600 patients, this translates to an increase of $24,000 to $36,000 in annual gross revenue.
The graph below shows regional¹ trends in median DPC membership cost. Monthly membership cost has been the most consistent in the West. In contrast, steady increases are most pronounced in the Northeast, where the median monthly DPC cost has increased 33% over five years from $60 per month to $80 per month. As a result, the Northeast has now outpaced the West as the most expensive region for a DPC membership. Despite fairly substantial increases from 2021 to 2022 in the Midwest and Southeast, these two regions remain the most competitive in overall DPC membership cost.
In summary, direct primary care pricing trends were fairly consistent leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has not been immune to the post-COVID pricing fluctuations seen across industries. It is important to note that DPC membership pricing is still remarkably consistent compared to both consumer income trends and the greater healthcare industry. The value that direct primary care offers and its general affordability prove that it is a viable alternative to individuals who cannot afford health insurance. For more information, download the 2022 DPC Trends Report.
¹Household income and geographic regions are defined by the 2020 US Census.