Concierge medicine is a growing trend in healthcare that arose in response to the rising overhead and administrative costs associated with health insurance companies, along with a growing decrease in covered services.
Also known as direct care, boutique medicine, and retainer-based medicine, concierge medicine is when a physician enters into a contract with a patient in which the patient pays an annual or monthly fee in exchange for enhanced care. According to American Medical News, enhanced care can include:
“same-day or guaranteed next-day appointments, 24-hour physician availability, telephone and/or email consultations, limited waiting times, coordination of care with specialists (and) an à la carte menu of services that can be obtained for an additional fee.”
Physicians are able to offer such extensive care because the regular fees allow them to see far fewer patients than if they were working with insurance companies.
Before you decide whether to make the switch to a concierge medicine doctor, consider these 5 facts:
- Annual fees vary between $600 to $1,000 per individual, depending on the number of services included.
- Some concierge medicine practices do not accept health insurance for any services, but patients are still encouraged to carry health insurance for services outside of the physician’s office, like emergency care.
- Some practices employ a hybrid model in which a small number of patients are offered the concierge plan, while the others continue under the traditional model. These situations often lead to a lower quality of care provided to concierge members than they would get under a wholly concierge practice.
- Your doctor determines which medical and non-medical services are included in your fee, along with any additional services that may be offered at an additional cost. It’s important to be fully aware of these before entering into a contract.
- Be sure you’re aware of the requirements for opting out of the arrangement. To do so may require written notice within a specified time frame.
Concierge medicine is not right for every patient. To learn more about whether your personal health situation is amenable to this kind of arrangement, use the Vitals Doctor Finder to find a trusted physician near you.
Sources: ama-assn.org/amednews and wikipedia.org