The Rare Bipartisan Health Idea: Affordable Concierge Medicine

Bruce Japsen, Contributor

A rare bipartisan health care idea that brings an affordable price to concierge medical care is gaining some attention in Washington.

It’s called direct primary care whereby doctors contract directly with patients to provide all of their primary care needs free of insurance interference at a price generally between $50 and $60 a month per patient, according to a New York Times story this week that called the approach “concierge medicine for the masses.”

The doctor provides unlimited visits to a physician’s office plus 24-hour access to doctors through e-mail consultations. The primary care model has drawn insurance industry opposition in part because the health insurer middleman is cut out of the equation but companies like Aetna Inc. (AET), Humana Inc. (HUM) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) don’t have anything to worry about just yet.

Insurers may benefit from direct primary medical care because patients who want insurance are still purchasing high deductible health plans for specialized care and hospitalizations. And there is even talk that some insurance giants are actually talking to direct primary care pioneers MedLion of Monterey, Calif., and Seattle-base Qliance about providing patients in their practices with access to “wrap-around plans” that would cover their specialist and hospital needs.



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