The ongoing challenges of healthcare are driving new creative solutions. One option growing in popularity is concierge medicine. I don’t think concierge medicine is automatically the perfect option for everyone, but I do think it deserves serious consideration. Devin Leonard writes about the concierge medicine trend in Bloomberg Businessweek (“The Cash-Only Doctors’ Club” 12/3/12–12/9/12, pp. 62–67):
“Atlas MD’s two physicians, Josh Umbehr and Doug Nunamaker, don’t accept insurance. Instead, they charge most of their adult patients $50 a month for unlimited visits. They also offer free EKGs and biopsies and cut-rate prices on prescription drugs.” (p. 64)
On the surface, concierge medicine presents a promising approach. I especially like the unlimited access the patient gains. That additional time is a contributor to the patient’s overall health, instead of simply focusing on “today’s problem.” Leonard elaborates on this point:
“Proponents of concierge medicine insist that more time with each patient allows them to provide holistic care that can prevent diseases such as diabetes that are major drivers of health-care costs in America and keep people out of hospital emergency rooms.” (pp. 64–65)
The statistics are quite telling. The traditional primary-care doctor handles 3,281 patients while the typical concierge-medicine doctor handles about 400. By eliminating so much of the insurance red tape and associated costs, and by focusing more intensely and holistically on each patient, everyone wins.
The model described is certainly not the holy grail of healthcare. It will not work across the board. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of doctors are shifting into the model or one of its many variations. Given its growing positive reception, my guess is we will only see more concierge medicine and in many new flavors.
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