Is Concierge Medicine Right For You?
Concierge medicine is something to consider if you cannot stand crowded waiting rooms and the feeling that you were rushed during your last visit to the doctor.
It is not only an issue with patients but doctors as well, which is why many doctors make the switch to concierge medicine. Also known as boutique medicine or retainer-based medicine, this practice allows more time for doctors and patients, which is how it should be.
If you have a health concern, the last thing you want is a 5-10 minute visit. That does not constitute “care” at all.
Explore your options and find out if concierge medical care is for you.
How Much Is A Concierge Physician’s Fee?
How much you pay for direct care varies from one concierge clinic to the next. Concierge doctors usually charge an annual fee, and what you get is highly personalized care and a comprehensive examination in every visit. You will also have your concierge doctor’s cell phone number and email address for quick communication.
The retainer-free however, does not cover visits to specialists, emergency room care, hospitalization, major surgery or diagnostics such as CT scans and MRIs.
It is also not reimbursed by private health insurance or Medicare, which is why you must assess whether the benefits of concierge medical care in your case justify the costs.
Meet Doctors Who Are Fed-Up With The Traditional System
Doctors who switch to concierge medical practice, just like you, are fed up with the low quality of care, the rising overhead costs, and flat or reduced insurance reimbursements. The only way to keep afloat would be to see more patients and spend less time with every one of them.
So Is Concierge Care Suitable For You?
To find out if you could benefit significantly from concierge care that you would pay the annual fee, assess your condition and your current medical care.
If you like your current doctor and find that you can get an appointment with him or her quickly and this doctor of yourself takes time with you, then there’s no reason to make the switch and pay an annual fee.
Do you have serious or complicated health issues?
If all your doctor’s visits consist of a few shots and consultations, then it’s probably not worth the cost. But if you have diabetes or heart disease or any other chronic health condition, then concierge medicine may pay greater health dividends — you get coordinated care and long-duration visits.
Is the location convenient for you?
Most concierge practices usually put up their centers in urban areas like New York and Los Angeles. If there’s not a concierge medical practice near you, then it won’t make sense to make the switch. Concierge care should be convenient and not a long trip away from you.
Does the cost provide valuable returns in your case?
You have to find out the actual costs of concierge medical care by checking with the concierge medical center. Once you have the amount, ask yourself whether the cost will provide good returns. Also, find out the specifics of what the cost will get you in return.
Since no standard definition applies to all concierge medical centers, make sure to ask the important questions and get answers from the doctor. For this, you would have to set up an appointment with the doctor.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor during your initial interview:
- Do you accept insurance?
- Will you file insurance claims on my behalf?
- What exact services do you offer?
- Do you have preventive care services?
- Do you personally admit your patients to the hospital?
- Is it possible to schedule same-day appointments with you?
- Can I contact you by email or phone? If yes, every when can I contact you?
- Will you coordinate care if I need more specialists?
- Do you make house calls?
The last but not least thing to ensure is that you get along with your concierge doctor. You are paying an annual fee to see a doctor you trust and are comfortable with. Take time to get to know your doctor.
At the very least you should establish what you want and expect in your relationship. You might be interested in alternative care, and your doctor doesn’t — this is a bad sign. Don’t rush into this and take time to decide on the most suitable concierge doctor for you before you sign on.