Concierge Medicine

Why Concierge Medicine is Booming Despite of COVID-19?

August 21, 2021

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

In the early days of the pandemic, even medical experts were not aware of how far-reaching the effects of COVID-19 were going to be. But as we near the 2-year mark of health protocols and lockdowns, the fact that the old normal is never coming back is slowly starting to dawn on everyone.

The healthcare industry, for example, looks like it might never recover its pre-pandemic state. The sudden drop of in-person visits and the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic revealed a glaring vulnerability in the traditional insurance-based fee-for-service (FFS) system.

However, one segment in the healthcare industry seems to be thriving now more than ever – concierge practice. But what is it exactly about concierge practice that makes it such a resilient model during this pandemic?

Concierge Medicine Boom:

Efficient Health Monitoring

Before the health crisis, affluent clients were drawn to concierge practices because they offered some of the best ways to monitor general health and wellness. As the pandemic raged on, however, it has become clear that the benefits of having a doctor available on-call round the clock and the routine check-ups are features that can help in keeping members healthy and COVID-free.

Routine check-ups are part of what members pay for in the yearly fees of a concierge practice. It makes these models a good method for early detection of serious illnesses including COVID-19.

As doctors and patients are more flexible in terms of the medium of consultation, scheduling is much easier compared to traditional FFS practices that used to require in-person visits. Patients are also more likely to initiate a health check-up if it can be done more conveniently through online and other more convenient means of consultation.

One of the most obvious benefits of being enrolled in a concierge practice at the onset of the pandemic is that they managed to procure and distribute COVID-19 before other private medical institutions were able to do so.

Members were able to routinely request for self-administered test kits to be delivered to their homes giving them an additional layer of protection against the pandemic and some much-needed peace of mind. The rest of the population, on the other hand, had to pass certain contact tracing criteria before they could get their hands on test kits.

Having 24/7 access to a physician is also a huge benefit for members who have contracted COVID-19. It allowed them to ask doctors what to do to self-medicate at home and avoid being admitted to crowded hospitals.

Cost-Efficient Healthcare

Concierge medicine may sound expensive at first with a price range of $3000 – $10,000 annually depending on the range of services offered. However, compared to traditional insurance, members would soon realize that this price range is competitive especially when the benefits are considered.

There are also other expenses tied to traditional FFS practices that may make them even more costly compared to concierge medicine. Deductibles such as cost-sharing and co-payment expenses in FFS models, can truly cause some bill shock. Because of this, people need to consider between a low-premium but high deductible plan or a high premium with lower deductible options.

With a concierge model, the breakdown of coverage of the annual fees is plainly laid out which eliminates confusion and bill shock. Services and medical equipment usage are also often largely discounted which can make the total cost of healthcare more palatable even for less well-to-do members.

Flexible and Customizable Services

Another crucial benefit of enrolling in a concierge practice is that they usually have flexible terms and packages. Some concierge practices were able to quickly pivot into COVID-19 home care packages when the pandemic hit. This allowed them to respond quickly to the needs of their members giving them some of the best care available.

This flexibility is not exclusive to COVID-19. There are other aspects of Concierge Medicine membership that can be changed quite easily precisely because insurance companies are not as big of a factor in concierge practices as they are in FFS models.

One excellent example of this flexibility is in how some concierge practices have begun distributing health subscriptions boxes. From dental hygiene kits to COVID-19-specific care kits, concierge practices have been creative in the way they provide care to each of their members. Some dermatologists even made in-home cosmetic procedures available in their roster of services offered.

Concierge physicians are also free to scale up or scale back on their services to accommodate the different needs and circumstances of their members. Some concierge doctors, for example, were able to create COVID-19 home care packages that include imaging and oxygen support for members who have contracted the virus. These steps effectively helped the struggling public healthcare system to cope with the influx of more severe cases.

The success of concierge medicine as a healthcare model is one of the few positives to come out of the pandemic. It has proven to be an efficient health monitoring tool for outpatients for an overall cost that does not stray too far from what members would typically have to pay in the traditional FFS model.

If the trends are to be examined, there is no reason to think that this COVID-inspired boom in concierge medicine would be halted even in a post-pandemic world.

Now, isn’t that such a comforting thought? Making exceptional healthcare accessible to patients like you is our ultimate goal. Enjoy the best that healthcare has to offer, and find a concierge doctor in your area.

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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