By Lauren McDonough | Opinions Co-Editor | Concierge medicine, also known as boutique medicine, retainer-based medicine, or direct care, is on the rise. This kind of medical care cuts out the insurance company middle man and charges patients an annual fee or retainer in exchange for access to a primary care doctor who boasts low patient numbers, 24/7 accessibility, and more intimate patient care. In some cases, these practices accept insurance for very basic services but charge a non-reimbursable fee for more access to the doctor.
There’s certainly a lot to say for the benefits of this type of care, especially at a time where insurance companies have a strong hold over the medical field. Primary care physicians are expected to see an increasing number of patients each year; due to this influx, insurance companies are beginning to institute new standards and protocols so that nurses and assistants do many things that doctors used to do. While this may sound like a smart time-saver, doctors often make important discoveries through the kinds of detailed assessments that are now being divided up and delegated.
For many doctors and patients, the switch to concierge care is a no-brainer. Patients get personalized care, available around the clock, and doctors get to practice the kind of in-depth preventative medicine that they endured years of rigorous training for. Here’s the catch – ethically, it’s pretty unfair.
With the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the U.S. took a step towards the goal of all Americans having health coverage. If this act leveled the socioeconomic playing field in terms of health care, then concierge medicine creates a huge rift. In essence, this kind of care will create a divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Those who have the requisite cash flow will have the access to the best kind of care, while those who “just” have insurance will be stuck with standard care that will soon become bottom-of-the-line.
On a personal level, concierge care makes sense if you can afford it. But when you think about yourself as a person with a commitment to be fair to the other people who occupy this country, concierge care is not the right answer to the health care problem. Even without the intent of malice, switching to concierge care is saying that you deserve better health care than everyone else. As Holy Cross students and as global citizens, choosing this kind of care does not fit in with our mission of being “men and women for others”.
Source: The Crusader | Colleage of the Holy Cross | http://www.thehccrusader.com/opinions/concierge-care-ethically-unfair-1.3026982#.UWwgqsrQgxB