Concierge Medicine

Concierge Medicine Pros and Cons For Patients

February 09, 2021

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

When it comes to making health decisions, it is essential to examine both pros and cons, to come up with the most sensible decision. This applies especially in choosing the best health care model.

The concierge care model is emerging as a trending model in the American health care system. It entails paying additional fees to avail enhanced and more personalized services from your doctor.

While this model sounds enticing, you must consider a careful assessment of different factors first to determine if concierge medicine fits your health needs.

Therefore, we are here to provide you with a comprehensive list of concierge medicine pros and cons so that you can evaluate the merits of this health model from your perspective.

Advantages of Concierge Medicine:

1. Concierge medicine provides better access and connection to your doctor.

Doctors are one of the most in-demand people, yet we cannot rely on that they are always available to attend to our medical needs due to their busy schedules. Most clinics and health care providers would require patients to set up an appointment ahead of time to be accommodated.

This scenario can be frustrating, especially when there is a medical urgency. Hence, a surge in the number of Americans signing up for more personalized medical services through concierge medicine has been observed.

Concierge medicine can help you make the most of your time since you no longer have to wait too long to connect with your doctor. It enables you to avoid the hassle of setting up an appointment way ahead of time.

Some concierge medicine arrangements can give you 24/7 access to your doctor via cellphone. It also enables patients to book same-day appointments, extended visits, house calls, longer examination time, home delivery of medications, and round-the-clock telephone and email access to your doctor.

Enabling patients to book same-day appointments removes the anxiety in waiting during medical emergencies, giving you more control over your health care. This advantage of concierge medicine helps you make the most of your time and money by providing you with better healthcare access.

2. Concierge medicine gives more personalized and more focused health care.

The Health Journal calls concierge medicine as a "highly-attentive medicine".

With concierge medicine, doctors have fewer patients to accommodate, allowing them to give more personalized and more focused services. Fewer patients for your doctors would mean more time and attention for you during every appointment.

This enables your doctor to focus on prevention and maintenance of your well-being, rather than disease treatment. More services and discussions for your nutrition and fitness, for example, could be added since your doctor is not rushed and pressured to meet other patients.

According to Medical Economics, these kinds of medical practices that center on the patients' prevention and wellness are often not covered by standard health insurance.

More than anything, concierge medicine gives you peace of mind knowing that your overall wellness is maintained. That is something your typical insurance cannot provide most of the time.

Concierge Medicine

3. Concierge medicine raises the quality of health service.

Concierge medicine fosters a beneficial system for both doctors and patients, therefore, raising the standard of medical services.

One of the notable advantages of concierge medicine is the reduction in the number of patients enabling doctors to experience fulfillment in practicing medicine without compromising their income and their services to the patient.

This then results in improved quality that doctors can offer their patient through comprehensive and preventive care.

Concierge medicine, like many other things we purchase, is an experience as much as it cares — you have a much more personalized and intimate encounter with your concierge doctor - Charles Dinerstein , a vascular surgeon and a senior medical fellow

Concierge medicine gives reassurance that the healthcare needs of the patients are being met.

4. Concierge medicine guarantees the welfare and satisfaction of patients.

A 2014 survey has found out that 90% of the patients under the concierge medicine claimed that they are more satisfied with this model than traditional health care.

A huge factor contributing to this satisfaction level is that concierge doctors have 100% focus and time to understand the patient's medical condition thoroughly.

With this addition in the concierge medicine pros, they can assess the patient's case, considering the medical history, symptoms, test results, and other factors that most doctors often miss when they are rushed and swamped with many patients.

Concierge medicine ensures the overall quality and validity of every consultation. Thus, there's no need to conduct unnecessary specialists consultations and tests.

Concierge doctors are also more likely to give an early diagnosis of medical conditions to their patients and less likely to refer patients to other consultations, unlike in usual medical healthcare set-up.

Therefore, patients can prevent further complications and health damages, and consequently, reduce their overall healthcare spending. Not only that, patients can significantly save a lot of time and effort on their end and avoid stress.

Just keep in mind that in choosing different concierge options, patients must ensure that the doctors they will consider are certified by the appropriate medicine boards and, ideally, also affiliated with a major hospital or medical center to ensure optimum health outcomes.

5. Concierge medicine helps patients save money overall.

It may be an unpopular opinion, but one of the most underrated advantages of concierge medicine is that it helps patients save money. Since concierge doctors have more time to think and evaluate their patients, they can quickly pinpoint which aspect of your body or health needs attention.

This means that there is no need to conduct unnecessary laboratory tests and procedures that contribute to many expensive health care bills. This concierge medicine pro can decrease the out-of-pocket expenses of patients.

In situations where a patient might need to undergo lab procedures for their case, concierge doctors also offer discounts on these procedures, outpatient services, and even medications.

In an article published by The Wall Street Journal, concierge medicine patients' discounts can avail from tests and screenings offered by Concierge clinics ranges from $10 up to more than $400.

For example, a normal MRI brain without contrast can cost up to $600 in a hospital or screening facility, but for a concierge medicine package, patients can avail it for only $380.

Money matters are not part of the disadvantages of concierge medicine. The patient has to be well-informed of all the services and look at the whole package in a more sophisticated angle.

Disadvantages of Concierge Medicine:

1. Entails paying additional fees on top of your insurance

Of course, additional and direct services would mean additional cost too. According to the Health Journal, concierge medicine can cost you a hundred to thousands of dollars per year outside of your insurance. The annual concierge fee is likely to range anywhere from $1,500 or $1,800, to $3,500, and in some cases significantly more.

If you are to compute it monthly, the average cost of concierge medicine range from $77 to $183 a month, based on the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Patients who plan to avail concierge medicine should be aware that they still need to keep their regular insurance. Although concierge medicine can cover regular physician visits, insurance is still necessary to pay for emergency health situations, operations, and more serious illnesses like heart diseases, requiring medical specialists like surgeons etc.

2. Leaves patients who cannot afford concierge medicine with lesser care

Money is not the sole factor that contributes to some concierge medicine cons. With the fast-paced shift of patients from traditional to more advanced health care models like concierge medicine, doctors are also urged to adjust to the trend.

As a result, some health organizations worry that doctors will be attracted to this model due to higher pay, leaving low-income patients with lesser care due to the more focus given to those who can pay.

With the nationwide shortage in primary care physician, some critics from the Health Journal see concierge medicine as a model that creates a "two-tiered health system" for those who can and cannot afford. This is one of the debatable disadvantages of concierge medicine.

People who could not afford the retainer fee of their doctors who switched to a concierge practice might be forced to find a new doctor. They also argue the effects of this on families under economic pressure by making health care selective and exclusionary.

Is concierge medicine worth it?

Concierge medicine offers long-term health and financial returns. Although it may seem like you are spending more by acquiring a concierge medicine subscription on top of your insurance plan, (yes, the former does not replace the latter) the reality may surprise you.

Not only does concierge medicine give you the freedom to reduce your insurance plan to a cheaper one (you’ll only ever need a premium that covers hospitalization expenses and in-patient services once you have a concierge medicine subscription), it also frees you from the worries of unexpected costs and overcharges.

Now that you are presented with the list of concierge medicine pros and cons, you should take some time to sit down and weigh in both the advantages of concierge medicine and the disadvantages of concierge medicine that you can get.

Health is an important investment. In making whatever health decision, the best strategy is to evaluate the pros of concierge medicine against the cons of concierge medicine based on your individual needs before entering into any agreement.

By doing so, you can avoid any drastic decisions and ensure that you will get the best value for your money when it comes to health care.

Join the movement for improved patient-centred care and see a concierge doctor in your area today. Find your nearest concierge doctor at – findmydirectdoctor.com

Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Advocate of healthcare models that promote direct relationship between patients and doctors. Founder @ FindMyDirectDoctor, LLC.

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