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Direct primary physician debuts with monthly fee for care

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Dr. Kimberly Legg Corba has converted her Upper Macungie Township primary care practice to Green Hills Direct Family Care Inc., which has more than 150 members who pay a monthly fee for care.

As a young girl, Kimberly Legg Corba liked taking care of people. So much so that by middle school she knew she would follow in her late grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor.

As a young girl, Kimberly Legg Corba liked taking care of people. So much so that by middle school she knew she would follow in her late grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor.

Now, after 15 years in traditional primary care practice, Dr. Legg Corba took a chance this month and transitioned her Upper Macungie office into Green Hills Direct Family Care Inc. – becoming the region’s first direct primary care physician.

Direct primary care is not a substitute for health insurance, but rather a medical service that was developed 20 years ago to act as a backup mechanism for primary care patients who have high-deductible health insurance plans.

The practice charges a monthly fee to its patients, who get full access to primary care, including longer visits, 24/7 access, no co-pays and no restriction on the number of office visits. The direct primary care physicians benefit by eliminating third-party payers or health insurance companies and the complexities, costs and delays in health care that can come with them.

Most important for Legg Corba is that direct primary care empowers the doctor-patient relationship – her favorite part of being a physician, she said.

“Even if I was making less money, I am spending more time with patients,” she said.

Before switching to direct primary care, Legg Corba had to maintain a high number of patients in order to keep up with the rising overhead costs of health care. But, with the new direct primary care model, it has been liberating for her, she said, giving patients an opportunity to save money while still getting effective, personal health care.

“I didn’t go into medicine to bankrupt people,” said Legg Corba who has 154 patients, a fraction of the 1,200 active patients she was seeing in her previous practice.

Legg Corba said she is still trying to grow her patient membership, but will be able to maintain a similar income with a significantly smaller number of patients. And this means more quality time with patients.

Phyllis Leibensperger, a patient of Legg Corba’s for about nine years, said being a member of Green Hills Direct Family Care is money well spent.

Jennifer Glose
Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111.

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