There is an interesting development in North Carolina regarding health care savings that has not been gaining the publicity it deserves. Direct primary care networks have been illustrating recently that they aid private and self-insured employers to a tremendous extent. By including this additional benefit option for workers to have a doctor spend more time managing their health care, these direct primary care (DPC) networks have effectively reduced “emergency room visits, specialist referrals, and inpatient admissions”

In addition to this development, the public sector has success to boast of as well. In particular, North Carolina’s Union County claims they are expecting to see a full million dollars in savings by the end of their first year contract with Paladina Health. Paladina is a trend-setting healthcare delivery organization that resides within the direct primary care network arena. Actually, interestingly enough, Union County is the only county in all of North Carolina to offer this sort of DPC benefit as of last April, and as such, it is the only county to witness such impressive, and projected, savings.

If the projected savings do indeed come to fruition, that will be one million dollars saved on only 37 percent of the county’s nearly 2,000 covered individuals who look for preventative care from a certified professional at a “near-site” clinic. Should the same coverage be applied to all covered persons, the savings could be, well, astronomical; and if the coverage was applied across all of North Carolina, the savings would be of invaluable significance to both employers and employees across the board.

In an inflationary environment where healthcare continues to outpace even living wages, this event not only draws interest, but could potentially provoke the innovation and change we need to fully rectify the American healthcare system, or at least to put us on the right path to achieving such anyway.

This all said, I am not blindly promoting a consumer-driven plan unaware of the criticism that goes along with it. In fact, lower wage earners and individuals already deeply entrenched in the healthcare system may experience profound difficulty in a reorientated system. Yet, since when is the fact that the system is already broken an excuse for not fixing it?

We must still entertain potential innovation when it shows its hand, and DPC networks may very well be the future. Regardless of whether or not DPC’s pose an effective solution for healthcare cost reduction, we must at least pay their success the attention it deserves.