The field of concierge medicine has been growing in recent years, with more and more physicians choosing to make the switch to this type of practice. Concierge medicine typically involves a smaller patient-to-doctor ratio, longer appointments, and a higher level of service and care for patients. And while this type of care used to be available only through personal referrals or in certain metropolitan areas, it’s now becoming increasingly available online. So if you’re looking for a more personalized healthcare experience, concierge medicine may be the right option for you.
What does a Concierge Membership Fee Cover?
Concierge medicine (also called boutique, retainer, and direct practice medicine) involves a system in which patients pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to their physician. This fee may cover office visits, email/text messaging with your doctor, home visits (in some cases), and other services such as medication refills or bloodwork. Generally speaking, this type of arrangement doesn’t include any “extra benefits,” such as insurance coverage; however, more and more practices are partnering with insurers to create plans that feature these types of services.
Concierge doctors maintain full patient panels but are not required to accept insurance or Medicare reimbursement. They can also charge much higher rates than traditional primary care physicians, who often bill insurance companies more than they actually receive for a service – the main benefit being the on demand at your service approach aka the concierge part.
Where is Concierge Medicine Popular?
Concierge medicine is most popular in the U.S., though it’s catching on in other parts of North America and Europe; however, there are some countries that simply can’t afford to offer this type of healthcare. For example, in Canada and England concierge medicine is rarely offered due to mandated universal health care coverage.
How much are Concierge Medicine Memberships?
Concierge medicine tends to be quite pricey: an annual retainer fee will typically cost $1,500-$2,000 per patient — and sometimes even more than that — depending on how many services or benefits your physician offers with their practice. This monthly fee also doesn’t include additional fees for lab tests, medications or office visits. So while you can expect to receive more personalized attention from your doctor, this doesn’t mean that concierge medicine will be cost effective for everyone.
What are the Benefits of Concierge Medicine for You?
The first advantage is patient autonomy: with a larger patient-to-doctor ratio, it’s easier for patients to communicate their concerns and ask questions about their health without feeling rushed or being cut off by their physician. Another benefit is flexibility: if you have other things going on in your life at the same time as your appointment (e.g. kids to pick up from school), you will have the option of rescheduling or cancelling without penalty. The benefits for doctors include more time per patient and improved quality of care, which allows them to provide their patients with more personalized attention and information.
But aside from these benefits, what is most appealing about concierge medicine is arguably the ability for physicians and patients to develop a strong relationship that isn’t influenced by outside factors such as insurance reimbursement or hospital politics.
And since your physician is no longer forced to see anywhere from 10-20 patients in a single day, she can now invest the necessary time into each individual case in order to come up with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan — both of which can take much longer in today’s healthcare environment.
If you or your employer offers concierge services, it is essential to understand how they should be used. Concierge medicine can be an excellent option for those who want personalized attention from their doctor without having to wait in line all day just for a quick office visit.
However, if you are not familiar with the service and its limitations, or your employer’s policy on accessing concierge care, please contact them before seeing your doctor so that you have a clear understanding of what this type of plan includes and when it should be accessed. We would also recommend subscribing to our mailing list so we can help answer any questions about whether or not this style of healthcare may work well for you.
Dr. Ismail Sayeed
Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.
Read more about him in his author bio