More Doctors Want Patients Who Pay Membership Fee

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So-called "concierge" medicine -- where patients pay doctors directly rather than using insurance -- is growing. Find out why.

So-called “concierge” medicine is growing as more doctors convert their practices to direct patient contracting models or plan to do so, USA Today reports.

A 2014 survey by the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit trade group, found that 7 percent of physicians were practicing some form of direct-pay medicine and 13 percent planned to transition to it entirely or partly.

In addition, 17 percent of physicians 45 or younger said they planned to transition to a direct-pay practice.

Dr. Christina Bovelsky established Peachtree Family Medicine in Delaware in 2014.

Bovelsky tells USA Today that her adult patients pay an annual membership fee of $780 to $900, which includes an annual physical exam and two to four office visits as well as small procedures like nebulizer treatments and electrocardiograms.

For additional procedures and tests that are not covered by the annual fee, such as vaccines or blood tests, most of Bovelsky’s patients also have insurance.

One argument in favor of concierge medicine is that it gives doctors more time to spend with patients and therefore to better diagnose a medical problem without resorting to ordering more tests.

Bovelsky tells USA Today that the average time she spends with patients is at least 30 to 60 minutes, and sometimes 90 minutes:

“When you take the time to sit down, you are going to find the answer to what is going on with them.”

In a policy position paper published last week in Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians reports that one drawback of concierge medicine is that it could create a barrier to access for underserved populations like low-income people and people with chronic diseases.

To learn more about concierge medicine, check out “Should You Pay the Price for a Concierge Doctor?

Have you ever been to a membership fee-based doctor? Would you see one? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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