Concierge Medicine Myths & Realities
Concierge Medicine is just for the wealthy.
Reality: This is no longer true. Many forms of concierge medicine cost around $150 per month, which is the price of a package of cigarettes per day, or a daily cup of Starbuck’s Frappuccino. Dr. Garrison Bliss in Seattle, Washington offers concierge care to patients for $39 to $79 per month, based upon the age of the patient. The cost of concierge medicine depends upon the services that are offered by the individual doctor. Costs range from $1,500 per year to $15,000 per year.
Concierge Medicine is too expensive, because I still need health insurance.
Reality: Though catastrophic medical insurance, or Medicare benefits, are necessary for patients to avoid bankruptcy in the event of an unforeseen medical catastrophe, many people find that they can lower the cost of their total medical care by combining a high-deductible health insurance plan with a Health Savings Account. This can make concierge medicine quite affordable. Insurance laws and laws governing concierge care vary from state to state, so you need to consult with your account and local insurance agents before you opt for one of these plans. However, concierge care coupled with a high-deductible insurance plan is often equivalent to the cost of traditional health insurance.
Concierge Medicine will only worsen the shortage of primary care doctors.
Reality: Though it is true that doctors decrease the size of their practices when they switch to a concierge model, there is presently a mass exodus of doctors from primary care medicine. Young doctors are refusing to go into primary care medicine. This is due to the fact that practicing primary care medicine in our current broken system, seeing 30 patients per day, making only one-third to one-forth of what a specialist makes, has created an understandable shortage of doctors willing to practice primary care medicine. Over the long run, the only way to increase the number of qualified primary care doctors is to make the profession more attractive, both from a professional and financial perspective. It is our current broken system that has caused a shortage of primary care doctors; and if we stay on the old path, it will only get worse.
Concierge Doctors are greedy and don't care for the underprivileged.
Reality: On average, a concierge physician earns the equivalent salary of a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist or a radiologist. Most concierge doctors do a significant amount of charity work, often seeing about 10 percent of their patients free-of-charge. Concierge medicine simply puts the incomes of internists and family practitioners on par with their colleagues.
Concierge Medicine is unethical.
Reality: Most doctors who practice traditional medicine in our current third-party payer system have an obvious conflict of interest. They sign contracts with HMOs and insurance companies in exchange for patient referrals from these companies. In many of these contracts, doctors agree to limit or ration care to patients to maximize profits for these companies, their Wall Street shareholders and their CEOs. Some contracts even prevent the doctor from sharing this information with their patients. By any reasonable assessment, this third-party payer system is intrinsically unethical. Concierge medicine, by contrast, has no third-party conflicts. Patients pay their doctor directly for his services in the concierge model, just as they did in the days of Marcus Welby. In the concierge model, the doctor is the advocate for one party and one party only: the patient. He has no allegiance to or conflicts with third parties.