Wednesday, August 1, 2012

LAT Covers Concierge Medicine

The 7/29/2012 Los Angeles Times has a surprisingly balanced portrayal of the growing practice of "concierge medicine".

Here are some excerpts from their article, "Annual retainer fee buys patients more time with their doctors":
Concierge doctors often provide a comprehensive physical and extra screenings, as well as helping coordinate their patients' care with specialists or when they go to the hospital. Most doctors continue to take insurance, but others only take cash.
Everyone deserves to be healthy, but healthcare is a business, [Dr. Matt] Jacobson said. Unless they pay for it, everyone doesn't have the right to choose their provider, he said."
Some people view going to a private school as the most important thing," he said. "This is the same thing. Some people view healthcare as very important. They are going to cut their cable bill to see the exact doctor they want."
Similarly, the article discussed how it helped Dr. Robert Saltman:
He went from seeing between 20 and 25 patients a day to seeing between eight and 14, and he doubled the length of the appointments. Now, Saltman said he has the time to be proactive with patients and emphasize prevention and lifestyle changes. He hired a younger doctor to care for the primary care patients who chose not to pay the retainer.
Saltman said he didn't become a concierge doctor to increase his income. "I did it to continue to do something I love without being resentful," he said.
I especially liked this explanation from Dr. Saltman's patient Mitch Waks on the morality of choosing a concierge doctor:
Waks said he can justify the ethical dilemmas of paying his doctor extra for personalized medicine even as so many lack basic healthcare. "Is it bad that I am able to buy a BMW rather than a Chevy?" he said. "I don't think so."
Concierge medicine can be a win-win for both doctors and patients.

Doctors are able to practice good medicine according to their best judgment and conscience. Patients receive quality care with a minimum of interference from third parties such as the government or government-controlled insurance companies. I'm glad that more American patients and doctors are exploring this option.

(Read the full text of "Annual retainer fee buys patients more time with their doctors".  Article link via Dr. Matt Bowdish.)