The health care system in this country is in a world of hurt. Patients and health care providers alike are suffering. Docs either need or want to make more money. While I know doctors are held to a higher standard, and should be completely altruistic, a little capitalistic motivation is understandable given the years of training they’ve endured — and paid for — and the hours they work.
What is Boutique Medicine?
Boutique medicine, a.k.a. concierge medicine, a.ka. direct care, is a relationship between a doctor and a patient where the patient pays an annual retainer fee. Some doctors charge a retainer and still take insurance. Some charge the annual fee and still require payment for each visit, and some charge a higher fee which covers all the doctor fees for the year.
Pros for the patient:
– Immediate access to your physician.
– More personalized care and more attention.
– Some doctors guarantee a prioritized visits at specialists.
Pros for the doctor:
– Guaranteed income.
– The luxury of being able to practice medicine the way it should be practiced. That is, spending more time with each patient.
– Decreased hassling with insurance companies and less time spent on paperwork.
Before you decide to write a check to your doctor, consider:
– I think of this type of medicine similar to flying first class. You will end up in the same place, but you may be more comfortable getting there.
– Is this the right doctor for you and your family? A good relationship with your physician can improve your health. Don’t listen to the rumors about who is “the best.” Most important is your doctor being “the best” for you. Make sure she is before you fork over the cash.
– Will you get your money’s worth? If you are generally well, is it worth the added expense?
– Does more health care necessarily translate into better health?
– Are you willing to spend the time doing the insurance paperwork, to save the time on hold or in the waiting room?
True Story: My husband signed up with a concierge physician. He was in the office for a physical, and thought it seemed like a good idea. Not only is he never sick, he is married to a doctor! The one time he took advantage of the service and called about a minor ailment, his physician said (shocker) the exact same thing I said. Clearly, I married him for his good looks.