More on Private Medicine
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 youby Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
What will it cost me?
· The retainers that concierge docs charge annually range from about $1100 to $2100, although some doctors in mega-bucks neighborhoods charge much more.
· Note that there are also direct-pay docs who accept fees on a month-to-month basis, but they do not provide all of the amenities described in the next column.
What is usually included?
· The annual comprehensive wellness physical, including a blood panel and in some practices, multiple screenings and tests.
· 24/7 access to physician by cell phone, email and text.
· Same-day office visits, with little or no waiting
· Care from your own physician if you get sick when you’re out of town.
· Plenty of time to talk over routine concerns during office visits
· Easily accessed and meticulously maintained electronic medical records, sometimes available to you on line, always ready to be sent to specialists or the ER.
· Facilitated referrals to specialists, meaning that your doctor will contact other doctors for you, arrange your appointments, discuss your case in detail with the specialist, and follow up with you about your visit to the specialist.
· Assistance you’re your physician in obtaining pre-authorization and pinpointing the best specialist in network with your health care provider.
· Focus on preventive medicine, rather than reactive medicine
· In some practices, but definitely not all, a concierge doc will also care for your post-pediatrician-age child, up to age 26, included in your retainer fee.
· Some docs offer online services such as medical information, prescription refills, secure online e-mail with one’s personal physician, online lab results and access to digital x-ray reports and images
What is not included in the concierge retainer?
· The co-payment for office visits, except for the annual comprehensive physical. (Usually, your co-payment is listed on the plastic insurance card you keep in your wallet. My co-payment, for instance, for my individual Anthem PPO Saver plan is $30 per office visit.)
· Lab tests, scans and screenings conducted in facilities outside the concierge practice.
· Appointments with specialists
· Procedures, surgery and hospitalization, including visits to the emergency room.
How can signing on with concierge doctor save me money?
· You may be able to switch to a high-deductible health insurance policy, thus reducing your monthly payments. (See: “What kind of health insurance plans work with concierge medicine?,” below, for more on this.)
One of our patients shared this nice write-up from More magazine covering the basics of private/concierge medicine. It’s a quick read in a Q & A format and covers many of the common questions about this practice model. Of course there’s no substitute for the real thing–set up a time to come in and meet us in person to see if we’re a good fit for your healthcare needs!
In Your Corner: February 2012 – Love Your Heart!
“Introducing Dr. Christopher Dowd, a Premier Medical Expert!”
Check out Dr. Dowd featured on HealthTAP! Did you know he won both the Top General Internist and Most Compassionate Internist in Virginia?! Way to go, Dr. Dowd!
Click here to read the feature!
It’s Time to Redesign Medical Data
Here’s a interesting talk given by Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor at Wired Magazine, on personalizing medical data (and I would add medical care) and using technology to help to achieve better health for people. These are 2 of the foundational elements on which we built Cornerstone Private Practice. FYI, the video is about 16 min long but I think it’s worth a listen.
Cigarette Warning Labels
Did you know you can give your comments & suggestions to the FDA on these labels? To do so go to www.regulations.gov and type docket number FDA-2010-N-0568 into the search box and then follow the prompts. The FDA will accept comments until Jan. 11, 2011.
Flu vaccine locator
In case you missed it…
This year the flu vaccine has been recommended for almost everyone 6 months and older. This year’s vaccine includes protection against the H1N1 influenza strain that caused a lot of illness last year, as well as protection against 2 other common strains for influenza. It’s not too late to get the “flu shot” this year. You can find out more at www.flu.gov.