OPINION by Alex Beam for The Boston Globe FOR MANY years, Dr. Edward Legare was my primary care physician. My wife chose him for me. “He served in the military; you’ll like him.” She was right. I liked the citation from the Army’s Tenth Mountain Division on his wall, and I liked his succinct dietary advice — “Eat less fat” — which I assiduously ignored.
After some soul-searching, Legare decided to join a high-end “concierge medicine” practice a few years ago, and asked his patients to pay an extra $1,500 for his services.
His group practice shunted me to another talented young internist, Dr. Eric Serrano. Then — poof! He’s gone concierge, too. He wants $1,800 a year, he explains in a letter, “to ensure we have unhurried time together whenever you need me, and you continue to receive the individual attention and services you deserve.”
I’m paying about $10,000 a year for a family health plan, and, like most Americans, I see my doctor about twice a year. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care can’t keep decent doctors around for me to consult with? What’s going on here?
Harvard Pilgrim didn’t want to discuss this issue, but plenty of other people did. Legare and a colleague, Dr. Harold Solomon, praised the concierge doctoring model because the extra income allowed them to get their patient load under control. BC (before concierge) Legare was responsible for 3,800 patients, “It was overwhelming,” he said. “I was worried that I was starting to miss things. I was involved in only about half of my patients’ major medical decisions.”
Both Solomon and Legare said they retained “scholarship” patients, people who they knew might not be able to pony up the $1,500-$1,800 premium for their services. Then Solomon turned the tables on me: You have the money, don’t you, Mr. Beam? Why didn’t you pay?
READ THE FULL STORY for a straight forward look at concierge medicine for the masses from a Boston patient’s perspective.