Concierge Medicine – an Alternative to Standard Health Care
Concierge Medicine Is Not What It Used To Be…It’s Better
There’s been a lot of talk about concierge medicine lately. With the health care overhaul beginning to take effect, many are wondering if concierge medicine is the answer to this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. While premiums are rising and millions of uninsured patients are beginning to flock into the local physician’s office, both doctors and patients alike are desperately searching for alternatives. Concierge medicine, to many in this nation, is that alternative.
Over the next decade, as health care reform takes effect little by little, it will become increasingly more difficult to find a local physician who is not only taking on new patients, but not making them wait months to get an appointment. Even today it’s difficult to see your family physician within a week of calling, let alone get accepted to see a new physician who is still taking on new patients. Things are changing rapidly, and it’s time to decide if you will see this a a health care opportunity or if you’ll fall into the pack.
Concierge medicine was once a part of our history, when the town doctor would make house calls as part of his routine. Then it became part of our elite history, where only the rich and famous could afford quality care and ‘round-the-clock access. But things have changed, and concierge doctors are no longer in it just for the money, they’re in it just to stay in the game.
If we’ve written one, we’ve written a thousand opinion articles about the struggles that physicians face every day, and the struggles that are going to present themselves when health care reform takes over. Many, many physicians around the nation are considering early retirement or a change in career status. The ones who still enjoy their work and want to provide quality care for their patients are looking towards the alternatives available, and concierge medicine is one of them.
Concierge doctors are no longer charging prices that fit the rich and famous. In today’s economy, and in today’s health care environment, it’s about being able to provide quality care, avoiding the red tape and paperwork that slows every physician down, keeping patients healthy with preventative care, and ultimately keeping their costs down.
According to a recent article in ReadingEagle.com, family practices already are struggling to balance rising costs, the need to see more patients to meet those costs and doctors’ desire to have the time to maintain doctor-patient relationships.
The number of aging baby boomers is growing, and when health care reform goes into effect fully in 2019, it is expected to add another 30 million Americans to the ranks of the insured looking for doctors.
“If you add all that together, thoughtful patients, and people who are conscious of these dynamics, are starting to seek out relationships with private physicians that they know will be stable,” said Tom Blue, executive director of the American Academy of Private Physicians. “I don’t think it will overtake the entire medical profession, but it would not surprise me to see 20,000 to 30,000 physicians pursuing these types of private business models over the course of the next four or five years.”
Lastly, Blue said, in an effort to cut their health care costs, employers increasingly are offering their workers high-deductible health plans.
“So you’ve got more and more consumers out there who are now stewards of their own health care dollars, thinking for the first time as health care consumers,” he said. “They’re thinking, ‘I’ve just saved a fair amount of money in premiums, maybe I should invest some of this in prevention and managing my future health claims.’ ”
That’s where the concierge medical practice comes in, he said.
With offices in Los Angeles, California and Richmond, Virginia, SignatureMD (signaturemd.com) is one of the nation’s largest firms providing initial conversion and ongoing support services to concierge medicine physicians. SignatureMD currently partners with more than 160 affiliated primary care physicians and specialists across 31 states, and its network is rapidly expanding.