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.