Concierge health care has become a preference for many middle-income households in the United States. With several doctors in Naperville now offering what some refer to as ‘wealth care’, we thought we’d explore what this ‘physician membership’ offers.
According to Wikipedia — Concierge medicine (also known as retainer medicine) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. In exchange for the retainer, doctors provide enhanced care, including principally a commitment to limit patient loads to ensure adequate time and availability for each patient.
Concierge Health Care Services
What you get depends on what the practice offers. At some, all visits are included. At others, it might just cover an annual customized health exam, immediate visits, after-hours access and having the physician on-call.
Read through your plan and ask questions so you have all the facts before you join.
Keep in mind that these costs are in addition to your traditional health care plan, which will cover specialized care, MRIs and other services.
Typically, the extra charge is anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000 a year; and this is outside the traditional insurance system. The cost could be higher, depending on age.
Concierge doctors can spend more time with each patient to get to know them on a deeper level, they accept fewer patients — no more than 600 on average, compared to 2,500 or more for a typical doctor. Other concierge doctors charge a flat fee of $50 per month for consultations.
Instead of spending 10 minutes per patient, they spend at least a half hour and do comprehensive tests on the patient and even give them questionnaires, asking patients detailed histories like sleep patterns and sexual health.
Concierge doctors are also called private physicians or direct pay practices.
There are some practices that charge up to 5 figures in exchange for handling all aspects of the patient’s health care (from negotiating hospital bills to being with the patient in the operating room). Overall, concierge patients come from the upper middle class, with typical gross household incomes of $125,000 to $250,000 a year, according to Michael Tetreault, editor in chief of Concierge Medicine Today, a magazine that covers the industry. Concierge patients are usually from the Baby Boomer generation, generally in their 50s to 80s, according to concierge doctors.
The Details and Benefits
For many, having the peace of mind knowing that they can contact their physician any time during an emergency and that someone is always there to take care of them is worth the extra thousand dollars they pay every year. Concierge doctors can call the emergency room in advance, thereby speeding up the process of having to go through the waiting room during emergencies.
Some patients are so impressed by the service that they are even willing to forego expensive vacations or cut back on entertainment expenses just to pay for the concierge doctor’s annual fee.
Many concierge doctors also offer testing that traditional insurance doesn’t usually cover. Some of these doctors order blood tests to check for inflammation associated with heart disease. Others run body composition profiles to measure fat levels and muscle mass.
According to concierge doctors, they actually save patients money in the long run by reducing their need to go to specialists and hospitals.
In Naperville, there are a number of physicians who are practicing concierge doctors. Concierge doctors are often excellent medical practitioners and some patients believe that $150 per month is a good deal for stress-free and immediate access to personalized medical care.
In conclusion, based on the research and patient reviews, a Concierge practice/doctor is a preferred option for people who can afford it. There is a negative aspect to this however, by limiting the number of patients they accept, these excellent doctors are not available to people who can’t afford the additional annual fee.
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