Within the last decade many primary care physicians, frustrated with the limits imposed by insurance companies, started to sail their own ships by becoming concierge doctors. Now that health insurance is up for grabs under the new administration, concierge medicine is a nice option for people who want a solid relationship with their doctor and the security of knowing someone understands them on a more personal level.
Concierge medicine (also known as retainer medicine) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. In exchange for the retainer, doctors provide enhanced care, including principally a commitment to limit patient loads to ensure adequate time and availability for each patient.
Concierge physicians care for fewer patients than those in a conventional practice and are generally more accessible via telephone or email at any time of day or night or offer some other service above and beyond the customary care. The annual fees vary widely, ranging, on average, from US$195 to US$5,000 per year for an individual with incremental savings when additional family members are added. The higher priced plans generally include most “covered” services where the client is not charged additional fees for most services (labs, xrays, etc.). Some of the other benefits of concierge healthcare are: in-home visits, worldwide access to doctors and expedited emergency room care.
Concierge medicine can come in a variety of fee-based models including one where the patient pays a monthly, quarterly, or annual retainer fee to the physician. The retainer fee covers most services provided by the physician in his/her office. Often, vaccinations, lab work, x-rays and other services are excluded and charged for separately on a cash basis or where additional services are charged to Medicare or the patient’s insurance plan. Some of the benefits and services typically included in these two retainer models are: same day access to your doctor; immediate cell phone and text messaging to your doctor; unlimited office visits with no co-pay; little or no waiting time in the office; focus on preventive care; unhurried atmosphere; cell phone, text message, and online consultations; prescription refills; and convenient appointment scheduling.
Of course there are always differences between practices and there are always pros and cons to working with a smaller group “out-of-network”. Understand your needs and do your research to determine if concierge medicine is an option for you or family member.
Broad Street can help. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources and doctors (including locally vetted concierge doctors) to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago.
For more information, please call 847.728.0134.