Concierge Medicine Plans: Are They Worth It?

One of the newest healthcare alternatives is concierge medicine.   This is actually not a new idea for medical care.   It is a resurgence of the way medicine was practiced many years ago.   Concierge medicine, also known as boutique medicine or personalized medicine, is a convenient medical care option for both doctors and their patients.

Update: Check out my personal experience with a concierge medicine plan in Las Vegas.

Concierge medicine allows patients to have access to their physicians any time of day and any day of the week.   Patients can schedule appointments for as long as one hour, leaving behind the typical ten-minute appointment.   Doctors operating under a concierge medicine plan will schedule appointments with patients on short notice, seeing patients within the hour instead of within the next week or month.   There are no rigid office hours, because a concierge medical doctor will accommodate their patients in the middle of the night as well as the middle of the day.   Some concierge medical doctors make house calls.

There is, of course, a substantial fee for the privilege of using a concierge medicine service.   Patients pay annual retainers from $1,500 up to $10,000 and more in order to have access to the personalized care offered by concierge medicine doctors.   Some retainers cover office visits and other services, such as laboratory tests, while others only cover the “membership” in this exclusive medical “club.”  

Doctors practicing medicine in a concierge medicine service have as many advantages as their patients do.   Charging annual retainers for their services allows concierge doctors to have a much smaller patient base.   Most medical doctors are under pressure to see a certain number of patients every day in order to make a profit.   Extra overhead expenses, especially the required sky high malpractice insurance, requires them to fit as many patients into their daily schedule as possible, sometimes double-booking appointments in order to meet their quota.   Concierge medicine doctors have a more relaxed schedule.   Some have as few as fifty patients.

Practicing concierge medicine also allows doctors to avoid working through medical insurance companies.   Their patients’ annual retainers, plus any additional payments for office visits and laboratory tests, more than cover the insurance payments they would typically receive.   There is a huge decrease in the required paperwork for each medical service provided, and the doctors do not need to worry about negotiations with insurance companies or the inevitable dispute over payments.   Some insurance companies have recently begun denying service to concierge medicine doctors, which is a problem for concierge doctors with both concierge medicine and traditional insurance patients.

Concierge medicine plans are the best in personalized medical care.   Families with children, patients with chronic diseases requiring periodic doctor visits, and elderly patients with multiple medical needs and limited access to transportation can benefit immensely from concierge medicine plans.   The cost of one of these plans is usually the main drawback.   They are not feasible for everyone.

If you are able to afford a concierge medicine plan, it may be your best alternative for personalized, as-needed medical care.   If you are happy with your current medical doctor and medical care, a concierge medicine plan may be something you will want to consider in the future.

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  1. Boutique, concierge, retainer or membership based practice models are a rational and competitive response to an inefficient health care system rooted in an employer sponsored model on the verge of implosion.

    My how the table has turned! Once upon a time, primary care physicians were drawn to the prepaid membership basis offered by HMOs. Unfortunately, the market has matured and the model has passed the “diminishing returns” point and most primary care physicians would run from their practices if they were presented with a viable alternative.

    This will not solve the problem of the uninsured, but in some markets it will be a major improvement in access to quality health care services.

  2. @Gregg Thanks for the comment. I agree with you 100%. This is a direct reaction from having health coverage that it too managed by insurance companies, and not enough input from doctors or patients.

    I’m meeting with a perspective doctor on Thursday to see how we get on. If all goes well, I”ll join the plan and have better health care from a doctor I can actually communicate with, and get it to see the same day I make the appointment.

  3. I think this concierge or boutique medicine is an elitist situation for doctors who want to lighten their patient load but want to make the same amount of money. Health insurance is costly enough and takes a huge chunk out of our budget as it is. My husband's doctor got in with this MDVIP and because my husband didn't want to change doctor's, I am stuck paying an extra $125 a month for this so called "concierge medicine". I really resent the doctor and it upsets me that my husband won't change to another doctor who would give him good care without the gouge. This Castro Valley, CA MDVIP doctor told my husband to prep for a colonoscopy ( which if you have ever had to do, is a total pain in the you know where) and then only did a sigmoidoscopy in his office.

    • Reviews on the internet: Those by doctors and organizations high marks. Those by patients, more realistic. Why should a patient pay anywhere from $ 1,500 to $ 10,000 to a doctor and affiliated organization for something they should get in the first place from their doctor. I understand about two-thirds of the yearly fee goes to the doctor. The math tells me the doctor generates an extra one-half million to several million depending on the size of their practice, yearly. This is not health care but rather revenue generating by the medical profession and corporate America. I look at his as legalized stealing.

  4. On a recent doctor's visit I was solicited by the doctor and an advocate of MDVIP to join MDVIP at a cost of $ 1,500 per year. I researched this approach to health care on the web. I found it interesting, it is received high on the part of doctors and related medical persons however, questionable by actual patients. After many readings of the reviews posted on the web I come to my original conclusions. Why should a patient have to pay an additional $ 1,500 to $ 10,000 to a doctor for something the doctor should be furnishing in the first place. I understand the doctor gets about 2/3 of this fee. So, doctors get anywhere from one-half million to several million dollars, depending on the fee, for services he should be ginving to start with. This blows me away. This is not health care but rather, revenue generating on the part of doctors and their relationship with corporate America. A ten cent cup of coffee, in this country, would do more good than padding the pockets of corporate America……

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