Concierge doctors: Are they worth the higher price?

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —Concierge medicine is touted as a new, better form of health care, with more personalized attention from your doctor and even same-day appointments.

But are the extra benefits worth the higher price? Jerry Verseput, who enjoys half-hour visits with his doctor, is a believer. “It’s not just trying to get me in and out and seeing how fast she can move through patients,” he said. Doctors Kristine Burke and Mark Holthouse practice concierge medicine at the n1Health Center for Functional Medicine in El Dorado Hills. “I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with patients,” said Burke, adding that she is now able to limit the number of patients she serves. “I wanted to be able to teach them about their health. I wanted to offer more preventative care. “Patients are also guaranteed same- or next-day appointments and are given the cellphone numbers of their doctors for texting or calling anytime.

Some concierge doctors even make house calls. “It’s really great to not have to be rushing, rushing, rushing every seven minutes – to have someone come in and to actually get through more than their bag of prescriptions before it was time for them to leave,” Holthouse said. However, for patients, the additional time with the doctor comes with an extra cost. Concierge care ranges from $1,500 per year to as much as $15,000 per year on the high end, depending on services. That’s usually on top of your insurance. “A concierge practice really says for the doc, ‘Hey, I’m only going to be treating the ‘haves’ – because if you can’t pay that fee, you’re not going to be a part of that practice,” KCRA 3’s Dr. Tom Hopkins said. Hopkins said whether a patient gets high-quality care hinges more on the doctor he or she chooses. “What they’re getting is personalized attention,” he said. “And personalized attention doesn’t always translate into higher quality. “At least a handful of doctors in the Sacramento area practice concierge medicine. But it’s far from a trend, according to Aileen Wetzel, the CEO of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, which represents more than 3,000 doctors. “This area is very highly managed,” Wetzel said. “We have large medical groups and health systems, as well as physicians in solo and small practices. So, it really hasn’t been something that has taken off here locally. “However, patients like Verseput said they can’t live without the concierge services they receive now. Verseput explained reasons why, including “time with the doctor, feeling like they’re not in a hurry and the ability to just call her up and ask questions.” The concierge doctor acts as a general physician. The patient and his or her insurance will still have to pay for a specialist, lab work and surgeries.

About Concierge Medicine Journal

Concierge Medicine Journal (CMJ) curates breaking concierge medicine news, and editorial opinion on a wide variety of topics relevant to the practice of Concierge Medicine.

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