Concierge Medicine

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A great concept for primary care physicians and patients alike: concierge medicine. This doctor in Arizona is building his concierge practice, which will give patients an alternative to assembly-line, quasi-government-managed care. It’s fee-based, and gives patients access rights to the doctor and medical records via email, web, and cell phone.

When doctors don’t accept “private” (emphasis mine) insurance plans, they shed loads of administrative costs, paperwork, overhead, time, and trouble. Thus the doctor can do what he does best: practice medicine and understand the patient’s needs. Individuals with high-maintenance health issues (the elderly) make out well with a flat-fee pay system. Others may not need as much care, but may see the expenditures for concierge medicine to be worth the potential rewards.

Of course, since the pay-for-service agreement is private between doctor and patient, there are going to be those who criticize this practice because it’s the exact opposite of government-bureaucratic managed care, and it excludes those (except charity cases) who can’t or don’t want to pay. The below excerpt from the article is the typical response from the welfare-fed American.

Jack Brami, 64, of Glendale, recently learned that he would have to switch doctors. Brami said he cannot afford to pay Sapin’s annual fee, so he must quickly find another doctor to help manage his chronic health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and lymphodema (swelling of the legs).

“For a guy like me who lives strictly on a government check, this is an inconvenience of getting another doctor,” said Brami, a Vietnam veteran. “This is what medicine has come to?”

7:22 am on July 25, 2008