Traditional medical insurance, which is called fee for service, in the 21st century is a frustrating maze of high deductibles and premiums, preauthorizations for necessary procedures and tests, limited appointment availability and unkind claim denials.
Many Americans don’t realize that health insurance has changed drastically since the 1970-1980s, when HMO policies offered $100 deductibles and $10 copays were the norm.
The utterance of, “My health insurance plan is low cost, efficient and covers all of my needs with no preauthorizations or denials,” is met with incredulity, if not outright disbelief. The notion of possessing the “BEST Health insurance!” has become a refrain heard all too often, often masking a stark reality of hidden fees, labyrinthine policies, and unexpected denials.
In today’s profit driven fee for service climate, patients carry high monthly premiums, and high copays. Insurance companies routinely cost shift to the policyholder increasingly in this fee for service model. Recognizing the soaring costs of health insurance that burden countless individuals and families, Dr. Lani Braun embarked on a mission to provide accessible and comprehensive care to those in need.
Out of a Childhood Tragedy, a Love of Medicine was Born
Born in Ecuador, Dr. Lani Braun fell in love with medicine early on when her younger sibling succumbed to neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. She attended medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, and served one year post graduation as a clinic doctor in a rural Mexican village. There she performed appendectomies, assisted at births, and even rode on horseback to her patients’ homes to administer care. She completed her residency in Chicago before settling in South Florida with her husband, who is a nephrologist.
Dr. Lani began her Florida medical career as a primary care doctor in a fee for service medical center. She recalls hurriedly seeing 22-25 patients per day at the center, often running late as patients often had complicated and multiple comorbidities, often missing lunch and often logging 15 hour workdays. She barely spent time with her 3 small children and husband. After 11 years of this grueling pace, Braun longed for a slower, kinder, more patient centered approach.
Dr. Lani gravitated towards Direct Primary Care (DPC )to see solace from her grueling schedule. She describes: “By embracing the DPC healthcare model, doctors find solace in focusing on patient well-being over paperwork. This shift is driven by a desire to forge genuine relationships and provide personalized care, and to emphasize quality over quantity.”
Revolutionizing Healthcare Access: The DPC Model Unveiled
DPC is a model based on a monthly set membership fee that encompasses routine medical visits for acute and chronic issues such as diabetes/blood sugar regulation, EKG, body fat analysis, phlebotomy, urinalysis, tuberculosis testing, steroid injections, skin biopsies, and Vitamin B12 shots.
Patients pay $99 per month per individual and 5% discount for couples. There is a minimum age for patients of 18 years old. For this monthly fee, patients enjoy same day office visits, direct cell phone contact with the doctor, telehealth visits, and limitless, in person office visits per month if necessary. There is no yearly contract.
Healthee MD DPC Office was Born in 2022
Dr. Lani opened HealtheeMD, a DPC office in east Ft Lauderdale in June 2022 after two years of researching this model. She selected Broward County due to her proximity to her family and her childrens’ schools.
She promoted her DPC model by promoting herself on a direct primary care website where patients seek out this type of medical doctor. She also regularly gets referrals from patients and doctors.
One of the most appealing aspects of DPC is convenience, availability, transparency (patients do not get surprise medical bills in the mail), and personalized service for her patients. Dr. Lani describes sharing a cup of tea with patients on her office couch and detailing nutritional and exercise plans with her patient.
As one patient describes his experience with Dr. Lani, “As a 78 year old male with demanding comorbid medical challenges I rely on Dr. Braun to “quarterback” my medical team and translate their thoughts and input into a coherent and effective team plan.”
Navigating the Pros and Cons
The benefits for Dr. Lani include an improved work/personal life balance as a mom and wife and a relaxed attitude in general. One drawback of DPC is the conundrum of a DPC patient who lacks ANY standard health insurance, and later a major illness or issue ensues.
Dr. Lani suggests that patients retain their medicare or health insurance plans in case of major medical event or surgery, other minor afflictions, if financially feasible.
Another difficulty with DPC model is the constant explanation and general confusion with health insurance. Many patients feel $99 per month is expensive. In reality, this monthly fee is less than huge medical bills incurred from standard medical surgeries, procedures and specialist visits.
What is the future for DPC and for Dr. Lani?
Dr. Lani foresees a micropractice, with no more than 300 total patients on her schedule. She intends to incorporate weight loss and functional medicine in the future.
As more Americans grow frustrated with fee for service insurance plans, Dr. Lani feels that the DPC model will explode in upcoming years.
Check out her cozy and welcoming practice located at 2900 E Oakland Park Blvd. FLR3, Fort Lauderdale 33306.