By Rachida Essadiq
Feb 18, 2014 – Business savvy physicians making the switch to concierge medicine are changing the face of healthcare- one subscription at a time. The concept behind concierge medicine is simple: patients pay a monthly “subscription” fee to a physician, sometimes with a small “per visit” fee for access to a physician’s services. Subscription fees for a basic, primary care office can range from $50-$150 per month, which increase for higher end, more in depth services. This model often allows physicians to evade the hassle of dealing with insurance companies altogether while potentially reducing healthcare spending for patients who are “frequent” visitors, and give them better access to services.
As the Affordable Care Act mandates begin to take effect, experts predict a rise in the number of doctors who will no longer accept insurance. Conversely, as the number of insured Americans grow and traditional practices begin to flood with patients, people may find concierge doctors more accessible.
But is Concierge Medicine a Smart Choice for Doctors? We took a look at a few variables:
Does it Make Sense Financially?
A Bloomsberg Businessweek article reported that the average salary for a concierge physician ranged from $150,000 to $300,000, which absolutely falls inside the range of the national average salary for a primary care physician.
Dr. John T. Kihm from Durham, North Carolina reported in a Medical Economics article that in making the switch to a concierge model, patients are directly paying the majority of practice revenue. “In my case, appreciative patients directly pay me two-thirds of my revenue. Insurers contribute one-third. The insurance third is diversified across numerous private and government payers. If an insurance contract becomes less favorable, I needn’t develop balance sheet anxiety, because I have diversified my revenue stream.”
Then there is the question: If people are forced to purchase health insurance through the ACA, why would they also pay a subscription fee? – There’s a loophole. A clause in the ACA allows “direct primary care” to count as a compliant form of insurance when bundled with a catastrophic policy.