Monday, March 26, 2007

The Doctor Will See You Now - as in NOW!

How big a drag is it when you get ushered into the doctor's examining room, put on that dopey paper robe, and then you just sit there waiting? And then consider that you're one of the lucky Americans who actually has health care, unlike the 43 million uninsured.
Apparently there are lots of folks willing to pay a premium to have better access to their physician, and lots of physicians are bucking the HMO model and setting up so-called Concierge Phycians Offices so they can devote more time to each patient. Arguments on both sides abound. It creates a two-class system. Actually, it adds a third class above our present two-class system of those with healthcare and those without. Many concierge patients also take pro-bono patients, but clearly if all physicians became boutique docs, there would be no doctors left for the rest of the population. (I don't think there is a Boutique track in med schools as yet.)
The concierge patients love the arrangement, which costs from $1500-$10,000 above regular health insurance, which one still needs for catastrophic care. They appreciate the doctor's office managing their case, the TLC in the office, knowing they can go to their doctor instead of an emergency room (actually a savings to the health care system), and having as much time as needed to fully communicate with their doctor. And of course if you are a busy, high-earning person, your time is valuable and this system is way more efficient.
I've not heard about it coming to town here, and doubt I would opt for it. However I do appreciate the privilege of being to be able to pay directly for alternative care if I don't like the so-called "capitated" option my doctor's referral is dictating. ("Capitated" must be a good thing, since decapitation is not a good thing, but it does sound quite dreadful.)

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