Concierge Medicine 101- The Doctor Will See You Now
Concierge medicine, also known as private medicine or membership medicine, is, essentially, a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee for increased access and enhanced services. This fee can range anywhere from $600 to $5,000 per patient and typically is in addition to the fees the patient pays for health insurance premiums and insurance copayments for appointments and procedures, tests, etc. With concierge medicine, physicians care for fewer patients than in a traditional practice, giving them the ability to pay more attention to each patient.
Despite the recession, concierge medicine is flourishing for two reasons. First, today’s patients are increasingly seeking unhurried appointments, a personal relationship with their physician, the ability to come into their doctor’s office right away (or close to it) and access to their doctor day and night via phone. Second, doctors – frustrated by insurance companies and the current health care system – are seeking to find a new revenue base (concierge medicine’s access fees) while providing thoughtful, innovative preventative care and developing long-term patient relationships.
bask talked to Dr. Jeffrey I. Barke, founder of Newport Beach-based concierge medicine practice Personalcare Physicians, to learn more about this health care option. MyPersonalCarePhysician.com
Q: How is a concierge medicine practice different than a traditional medical practice?
Physicians are normally compensated on the number of patients they can see per day. A typical full-time physician will care for an average of 3,500 patients in his or her practice and will see an average of 25-35 patients per day. In contrast, a concierge medicine group like Personalcare Physicians of Newport Beach charges a yearly access fee that allows us the financial ability to see fewer patients – no more than 350 per physician – usually no more than five-to-six per day.
Q: What does my access fee get me that I wouldn’t get from a traditional practice?
The benefi t for patients is that they have enhanced access to their physician. At Personalcare Physicians, all patients have the ability to call their physician on his or her cell phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including email and text messaging. Same day or next business day appointments and emergency house calls can be arranged. Physicians will provide dedicated time to all medical needs including specialist tracking, review and collaboration.
Q: How does insurance work with this program?
For most concierge medical practices, traditional fee-for-service plans such as preferred provider organizations (PPO) or indemnity plans will allow us to best coordinate patient care. The client’s insurance will be billed for office visits, procedures, labs and prescriptions – just as is typically done under a PPO plan. Patients remain responsible for co-pays and insurance premiums.
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