About Dr. Guy L. Culpepper
Dr. Culpepper is the founder of Bent Tree Family Physicians and shares deep enthusiasm for independent healthcare. He has been recognized as one of the best family physicians in the U.S. His expertise also extends to osteoporosis, cholesterol management, and diabetes.
Academically, the good doctor graduated from the University of Texas Medical School.
Throughout his career, Dr. Culpepper has had different types of leadership roles. He has served as a Chief Resident and a President of the Medical and Surgical Staff at St. Paul Medical Center. However, from the start, Dr. Culpepper’s focus of interest was primary care. He continues to demonstrate the leadership role at Jefferson Physician Group that houses more than 230 pediatricians, internists and family physicians.
Journey and Motivation to Serve
Dr. Culpepper has always been a curious individual and understood the dynamics of different fields. But he also notes that being an overachiever allowed him to focus on things that matter the most to him. “I’ve always had a servant’s heart,” Dr. Culpepper said.
In the end, he realized that he wanted to focus on family medicine. “It’s been a long journey for me in primary healthcare, and it is easy to realize and recognize now that independent healthcare offers better value,” Dr. Culpepper added.
The doctor remembers that hospital prices drove contracting in the old days, and primary care fees became an afterthought. “My idea was to help protect primary care and that set in motion the foundation of Jefferson Physician Group,” he continued. Dr. Culpepper feels proud that his first independent venture continues to be non-profit.
Benefits of Independent Physicians
Dr. Culpepper views the independent physicians as a great value and applauds the cost-effectiveness of independent physicians. He demonstrates through examples that if a patient requires surgery, an independent physician can act like an insider. Independent health professionals have the freedom to refer the patient to any hospital or specialist that is best for the patient. It is the primary reason why the Samaritan doctor finds independent health professionals more practical for patients.
“Employed physicians are tied to a silo that involves a hospital group and an insurance company,” Dr. Culpepper said.
With this model, the more referrals employed physicians make to their silos, the more bonuses and income they can earn. It also cuts out the need to compare prices and focus on the quality of care.
“Sometimes the value is not the price – but sometimes it is the freedom to get better healthcare,” Dr. Culpepper added.
Independent Healthcare Structure and Insurance Companies
Dr. Culpepper noted that there is a lack of transparency and value without an independent approach, affirming that patients shouldn’t have to shop for basic quality of healthcare endlessly. Unlike the traditional approach, independent healthcare is more sustainable. In the past few years, independent healthcare has started to gain momentum because it comes across as a more reasonable structure.
In a conventional structure, there’s less empowerment and disproportionate collaboration between healthcare facilities. Dr. Culpepper mentions that insurance companies in the U.S. are at the center of the healthcare sector right now. There are usually one or two insurance companies that dominate every metropolitan city in the U.S.
“It’s a monopolistic approach that makes healthcare more expensive,” Dr. Culpepper said.
The hospitals in the U.S. have convoluted price transparency that confounds most consumers. The solution is to raise the concern about fees and how they step outside of the system.
“The fee structure system doesn’t just hurt patients – it hurts employers and independent doctors,” Dr. Culpepper added.
COVID-19 and the Future of Independent Healthcare
Amidst the peak COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Culpepper had to manage a practice of over 40,000 patients. The financial challenges were devastating during months with no revenue and the practice almost closed.
However, he pinpoints that there’s always a glimmer of hope, even in dire circumstances. On the bright side, he remembers when patients started a GoFundMe campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Within eight days, more than a thousand patients were willing to donate a hundred thousand dollars to keep the office open,” Dr. Culpepper said.
In the near future, Dr. Culpepper believes that small healthcare facilities will have more affordable, efficient, and reliable healthcare solutions. But he notes that direct-to-employer contracting will be essential to make independent health professionals successful.
He emphasizes that primary care should be separate from insurance. Dr. Culpepper points out that the future of healthcare should have more transparency. An independent and simplified model that could work in favor of patients and doctors.