A Better Image for Concierge Medicine?
By McKesson Corporation
JUNE 2013 – The influence of third-party payers in the delivery of care to patients was a driving force in the move to retainer-based or concierge medicine in the 1990s. As the number of physicians offering concierge medicine has increased, hybrid payment models have emerged that allow patients to use insurance benefits for covered services and a retainer fee for extra services. The American Medical Association recently examined claims about the benefits of concierge medicine in their Ethics Forum.
The article acknowledged the benefits of lighter patient loads, more time at each patient visit and more accessibility to patients, fewer physician resources devoted to billing and administration, and lower burnout rates. But the authors questioned its long-term viability in providing solutions for healthcare delivery for most patients. Three drawbacks were highlighted:
- The necessity for most patients to also carry major medical health insurance coverage and its associated costs, thus limiting participation by lower-income people.
- The lower patient loads of concierge physicians increases the number of patients seeking care from other primary care physicians, and primary care physician numbers are not increasing.
- The hybrid payment model adds back at least some of the influences from third-party payers, along with increased administrative resources.
Their conclusion: “Significant questions remain about whether it should be promoted as a model that can meet the needs of most patients in society even with the advent of hybrid models.”