Concierge medicine is also known by several different names, such as retainer-based medicine, boutique medicine, executive health, personalized medicine, innovative medical practice design, and VIP medicine. Regardless of the name, concierge medicine is considered to be the best solution for physicians who are trying to preserve their independence and integrity in today’s challenging healthcare environment.
This new style of practicing medicine has very old roots, because it requires physicians to limit their patient base so they can give their patients high quality care that is more personalized, available twenty-four hours a day – seven days a week, along with many other beneficial amenities.
In return for this improved personal attention and care, patients are required to pay their doctors a yearly fee. This fee makes it possible for doctors to improve their compensation while they are managing their everyday workload. Along with receiving a yearly fee, the majority of concierge doctors continue receiving reimbursements from private pay patients, and health insurance plans. Sometimes alternative medical practices and healing options are made available.
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The Concierge Medicine Relationship Between Physician and Patient
Concierge medicine is simply a relationship between the primary care physician and the patient where the patient pays a retainer or an annual fee. This annual fee, may or may not be, in addition to other types of medical charges. Physicians give their patients enhanced care in return for this once a year fee.
This type of medical practice has also been referred to as concierge health care, membership medicine, direct primary care, direct care, cash only practice, as well as direct practice medicine. Although, all concierge medical practices have similarities, they can be quite different in their overall structure, form of operation, and annual fee payment requirements.
Video From PBS Newshour: Concierge Medicine: Greater Access for a Fee
Particularly, they can vary in the degree of service that the physician provides, and also the annual fee. It is estimated that there are nearly five thousand concierge physicians, or membership medicine physicians, across the United States. These concierge doctors look after fewer patients compared to most conventional practices.
Generally, concierge doctors state they are available via their email or cell phones, all day or night, or they provide some special service that is beyond the regular provided medical care. The yearly fees usually differ, between $600 to $5,000 annually for one patient. Lower yearly fees offer less services, while higher yearly fees typically include most healthcare services.
A number of concierge practices do not accept any type of medical insurance. These practices are direct primary medical practices or cash-only practices. By declining to work with health insurance companies, these practices keep their administrative and overhead costs very low, so they are able to provide their patients with affordable healthcare. They become concierge practices only when the practice assesses a monthly or yearly fee as opposed to or including an extra fee for each separate medical service.
Some concierge practices accept health insurance and many do accept Medicare, but they do require a yearly fee for additional services that are not covered by the patient’s medical insurance plan. This yearly fee is not considered a substitute for health insurance, and usually does not include consultations outside the medical practice, medicines, hospitalizations, laboratory procedures, or emergency care from other healthcare providers.