Concierge Medicine: Your Questions Answered

In the October 2012 issue, we investigated whether it was worth spending $1,500 or more a year on a physician who truly pays attention to you. Here, everything you need to know about what it would cost, what's included and how to find a concierge doctor that's right for you

by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
woman doctor and patient image

·         By making fewer referrals to specialists for problems that a primary care doctor is completely capable of treating. Among the physicians you may not need to see: Allergists for hay fever, dermatologists for rashes, ENTs for sinus infections.

·         By ordering fewer scans, tests and procedures, including ultrasounds, CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and biopsies. This means having fewer bills to pay, until you meet your deductible and out of pocket maximum. Another benefit: You may avoid a high-dose radiation procedure, such as a CT scan.

·         Because the concierge doc will coordinate all your care, there is less possibility that tests will be duplicated if you are seeing more than one specialist.

·         You may avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room at your local hospital, since you can call your concierge doc for advice and consultation at any time.

·         Easy access to your physician may mean that you seek fewer sessions with alternative medicine practitioners.

·         Because your physician is available to consult with your pharmacist, you will have better control of prescription costs. For instance, you might be able, for instance, to split a higher-potency tablet in half rather than paying for double the number of pills.  Other worthwhile conversations include discussion of potential drug interactions, or the possibility of switching to a generic drug instead of paying the premium for the brand name. You save by getting drug selections and dosages right the first time, and not having to muster an additional prescription drug co-pay. Some doctors have arrangements with pharmacies that result in discounted prescriptions medications.

·         Being able to see your doctor right away may result in fewer days when you have to call in sick to work – because you hope to get in to see your doctor.

·         No sitting around waiting rooms may mean less exposure to flu germs.

How do I find a concierge doctor?

·         Although some concierge docs operate independently, most work with consulting firms that also provide management services to their practices.  They are happy to provide you with referrals in your area.

       Here are several:

·         MDVIP,a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, is the largest of such firms, and provides an excellent doctor search function on its website.

·         Concierge Choice Physicians

·         Specialdocs 

What kind of health insurance plans work with concierge medicine?

·         Concierge physicians are doctors in private practice. The way their practices are structured, in addition to your retainer, they expect to collect your insurance co-pay.  They also expect you to carry a health insurance policy covering, at the very least, catastrophic situations.

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