A concierge doctor works in the field of concierge medicine. This field is sometimes called direct care and involves patients paying an annual fee or retainer. This concept is relatively new, but is said to improve the relationship between a patient and their physician. In exchange for retainers and fees, these doctors offer enhanced care to their patients. These practices vary in payment method, operation and overall system. An estimated 5, 000 doctors in the United States work in this type of medicine.
Physicians in this field care for fewer patients than physicians working in traditional practices. These doctor may have 100 to 1,000 patients instead of 3,000 to 4,000 like doctors in a traditional field. These doctors are also assumed to be more available, by email and phone, at all times of the day. The level of care received is considered advanced.
Annual fees will vary but usually range between $600-5,000 per individual, per year. Some, but not all, of these practices do not accept health insurance. These may be called cash-only or direct primary care, DPC, businesses. By eliminating insurance, they can eliminate administrative and overhead costs and provide health care that is more affordable. A medical service is only considered concierge if it charges monthly or yearly fees in place of fees for each service.
Concierge medicine and DPC are both alternatives to primary care or traditional medicine. They seek to bypass insurance and develop a direct financial relationship with patients. Overall, both branches offer affordable fees, comprehensive health care and preventative procedures.
These alternatives are different in a few ways. The annual fee of a DPC business often includes all or most physician services. Furthermore, instead of doing an annual retainer fee, a flat rate fee is charged.
The origins of this medical practice have been connected to MD squared. Dr. Howard Maron developed MD squared in 1996 in Seattle, Washington. Since that time, the practice has continued to expand. In 2003, the Society for Innovative Medical Practice, SIMP, was created as a society for direct practice and concierge doctors. Since 2010, SIMP has been renamed to American Academy of Private Physicians, AAPP, and has collected more members.
There has been controversy over this field. Though proponents say this practice is lucrative for physicians, convenient for everyone, improves quality of medical care, and allows doctors to provide treatment that feel is necessary. Opponents insist that this practice favors the wealthy, limits treatment for individuals who cannot afford these services and increases insurance costs.
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