Dr. Karina Azank Parilo offers direct primary care at her KAP Medical Group office off BBD Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, which promises shorter wait times & fewer insurance headaches than traditional primary care medical offices. (Photos: Charmaine George)

If you’re frustrated with long wait times at your doctor’s office, not being able to get in to see your physician, or constantly being surprised with how much you pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses — even with health insurance — you might want to consider direct primary care. 

Karina Azank Parilo, M.D., of KAP Medical Group, offers direct primary care, which changes the way patients and their doctor relate to one another by removing dealing with insurance companies altogether.

KAP Medical Group, which is open to all ages, is located in the Windfair Professional Park in Wesley Chapel, behind the retail plaza on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. that includes Dickey’s BBQ and The Hungry Greek restaurants.

Instead of collecting payment from insurance companies, patients (or “members”) pay a monthly fee, which covers unlimited office visits and virtual visits via phone or video, in-office tests, well checks, sick visits, weight management and management of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis and more.

Dr. Parilo is originally from Tampa. She earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology from Duke University in Durham, NC, then earned her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the University of South Florida in 2005. She completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Massachusetts Family Residency Program in Worcester in 2010.

After working in a large private practice in Wesley Chapel for eight years, Dr. Parilo opened KAP Medical Group in early 2018, bringing along Michelle Diaz, who is now KAP Medical Group’s Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and office manager. The two have worked together since 2010.

Dr. Parilo and her husband Dane live in Seven Oaks and have a blended family of three grown children and three granddaughters. They met through the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel Noon in 2012 and both have remained active in the club.

How Direct Primary Care Works

Dr. Parilo says the monthly fee is a transparent, controlled expense, which is affordable for most people. “It’s $54 to $66 per month for an individual,” Dr. Parilo explains, “which is a lot cheaper than most cell phone and cable bills.”

Dr. Parilo still sees patients in her office, but says that telehealth has become popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Charmaine George)

She recommends patients still carry health insurance because the monthly fee doesn’t cover expenses outside of routine care, including hospitalizations, surgical procedures, visits to specialists and lab work. However, some in-office procedures are included in the monthly cost, with just a small supply fee charged, and Dr. Parilo says she has negotiated prices with labs, so that you may pay much less for your lab work than you would pay out-of-pocket if you used your insurance with a high deductible.

“We recommend our patients have catastrophic insurance or a high deductible plan or something they can fall back on to cap their cost, which is how insurance was originally meant to be,” she explains. “Originally, health insurance was like car insurance. You don’t use your car insurance to get your oil changed or replace your tires.”

At KAP Medical Group, you will never be one of thousands of your doctor’s patients, which Dr. Parilo says is common at some large practices. In fact, at her previous practice, Dr. Parilo says she had 2,700 active patients, and was expected to take on even more.

But, in the direct primary care model, your monthly fee allows your doctor to limit the number of patients he or she will see.“We will close the practice when we hit a certain number of patients,” she says.

That way, you always have access to your doctor in the way that works best for you, whether it’s a same-day or next-day office visit, or a quick text, phone call or video chat.

KAP Medical Group uses an app that maintains patient privacy and connects directly with each patient’s electronic medical record.

Covid Care & Precautions

Dr. Parilo says that her direct primary care model was an advantage when the office had to shut down at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Where some practices had to close their doors altogether, KAP Medical Group had a seamless transition to virtual patient care.

While the practice has experienced a couple of positive Covid-19 tests, Dr. Parilo says everyone has recovered well, and that KAP Medical Group continues to follow strict guidelines to keep all of its patients safe.

“We have frail patients and don’t want anyone getting hurt,” she says.

Now, as the pandemic continues to play out, Dr. Parilo and Michelle are in the office three days a week, and doing telehealth the other days.

“We have a warm and fuzzy practice, with a coffee machine and a couch,” says Dr. Parilo. “We try not to have you wait, but if you have to wait, it’s a comfy place. But, no one has sat on our couch in seven months, so it’s been different.”

The Patients Love It, Too!

Connie Ceparano, who lives in New Tampa, is a long-time patient who originally began seeing Dr. Parilo when her sons, now 27 and 22, were in elementary school.

“I chose her to begin with because she saw adults and children,” Ceparano says, “so our family wouldn’t have to go to two different doctors.”

Back then, though, when Dr. Parilo was with a larger practice, Ceparano says she was often frustrated with the office staff and the way things are generally done at most other doctor’s offices. If someone in her family was sick, they would offer her an appointment several days down the road. Sometimes, she would have to sit in the waiting room an hour or more. Sometimes, there’s even more wait time to see the doctor once you actually get into a room.

“I’m not bashing the practice she was with,” says Ceparano, “because they’re all like that.”

But, the hassle was worth it, because Ceparano says Dr. Parilo is an excellent doctor who truly cares about her patients, and is extremely thorough and detailed.

She also says that when Dr. Parilo started her own practice, she would have followed the doctor anywhere, but she had no idea what to expect from the direct primary care model. As it turns out, she has been very pleased.

“I love this new way of practicing,” Ceparano says. “It really comes down to being very personal. I don’t ever have to worry about seeing a physician’s assistant instead of the doctor herself. Not only do I get in the same day, I always get to see her.”

The transition from insurance-based fees to the monthly fees has been a benefit to Ceparano’s family, too. “It’s so well worth it,” she says. “I feel like it pays for itself. If you need to, you can go in 10 times in a month and you’re not paying a $30 or $40 copay each time.”

Ceparano adds that she and her husband and her sons won’t go to any other doctor for primary care.

“My son’s job takes him out of town a lot, but he doesn’t have to worry about finding a doctor. If he’s in California, for example, he has the app on his phone and he can call, text, or video chat. It really is a great benefit.”

KAP Medical Group Direct Primary Care & Family Medicine is located at 2615 Windguard Cir., Suite 101, across Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from AdventHealth Wesley Chapel. The practice is currently open by appointment only. For more information or to make an appointment, visit KAPMedicalGroup.com or call (813) 536-0050.

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