The Principle Advantages of a Concierge Medical Practice
With the nation’s healthcare system struggling to cope with spiraling costs, increased patient expectations and a general failure to allocate healthcare dollars to patient care, the concierge medical model offers a practical alternative. Traditional medical practices must carry a heavy administrative component to meet the bureaucracy of insurers with their approval and reimbursement systems, and this entails exceptionally high patient to doctor ratios which impacts the practice of medicine.
Physicians and patients alike are searching for a realistic alternative. Both want the practice of medicine to focus on the needs of the patient, with doctors free to recommend treatments from the full range of available remedies, free of interference from insurance companies who are restricting treatment options on the grounds of their own financial position.
Concierge medical practices operate on a retainer system whereby the patient pays an annual or monthly fee. This assures the doctor’s availability and a range of basic services. Additional treatment options which are not covered by the retainer fee are paid for on an as-needed basis by the patient. Treatment payments may be direct to the physician or the service provider, whichever is most appropriate at the time.
There is a direct patient/doctor relationship created which handles the examination, diagnosis and medical care recommendations, as well as the financial aspects of the treatment course undertaken. At no point is an external party able to render any influence in the recommendations of the physician, which protects and maintains the integrity of the advice and duty of care from the physician to the patient. Under a traditional model, the insurer will wield considerable influence in the medical advice and treatment options which are available, and patients cannot be 100% confident they are receiving the very best, objective medical advice.
The removal of the insurance companies from the business equation means that a concierge practice does not need to carry a heavy administration component. Traditional practices must manage a cumbersome system whereby the cost of initial examinations and diagnosis are covered (whether by the patient co-pay or from the insurer) and then must process and receive approval for whatever treatment is recommended. In contrast, a concierge practice simply needs to work out how a patient is going to pay for the treatment regime which they choose to follow, based on the 100% objective recommendation and advice of their physician. This results in significantly reduced costs associated with medical care to the patient.
Ultimately, the cost of medical care under a traditional model must cover the cost of administration and the profit element of the insurer. This is typically a substantial element in the overall cost of treatment for patients, and can be in excess of 25% of the total bill, rendering treatment options beyond the financial means of many patients. A concierge physician does not carry a high administrative component to their practice, which means healthcare costs are lower and completely within the control of the patient.
Finally, with less time and attention required by physicians to cater to the administrative demands of insurance companies, there is more time available to be devoted to delivering care to patients. Concierge doctors are also able to run a profitable practice far more easily, and this means their patient rolls are significantly lower than for a traditional practice. It is usual for a traditional physician to be responsible for several thousand patients; in contrast, it is usual for a concierge practitioner to have fewer than 1,000 patients and many have significantly fewer than that number on their rolls.