Thursday, July 24, 2008

Concierge Medicine

Government insurance programs such as Medicare devalue the services of primary care physicians relative to specialists, as many physicians such as have noted. As a result, it is entirely natural that some of the more entrepreneurial primary care doctors are switching into the field known as "concierge medicine":
Concierge medicine is an appealing option for some primary-care doctors who want to break free from the assembly-line method of patient care that they say they are forced to adopt.

Primary-care doctors say this limited practice is appealing for many reasons. They cite the drumbeat of threatened pay cuts from government programs such as Medicare and the red tape and restrictions of private insurance companies. Other factors include the rising cost of malpractice insurance and the expense of hiring assistants and office managers who must push paperwork.

The trend underscores the fact that the role of primary-care practitioner is a less appealing option for young doctors who see more lucrative career paths in specialized areas of medicine such as dermatology or plastic surgery.
Both the patients and doctors benefit from this option. Physicians are able to spend more time with their patients and practice their craft according to their best medical conscience, for reasonable reimbursement. Patients get the benefit of improved quality care for a fair price. Both parties benefit from the exchange, because in essence it represents a shift towards a partially free market.

It is only partially free because patients and doctors must still work within various regulations such as FDA rules, government licensing requirements, etc. But even so, the benefits are significant. Just imagine the benefits we could see in a fully free market! (Via W. Perry.)