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ASHEVILLE, NC: ‘I’m curious with everything going on about Obamacare and health insurance changes. Does Western North Carolina offer any sort of concierge doctor services? I’ve never heard of anything like that around here, but you’d think a city this size with so many retirees would have that option.’

Written by Casey Blake COLUMNIST

This week I received the ultimate holiday surprise amidst your always-festive burning questions, and I think you’re going to be as thrilled as I was to unwrap this one on Christmas morn.

patient guide dpc small“I hereby resolve not to send anymore all-caps emails,” a reader committed via email — on Christmas Day. “It’s aggressive, it’s rude and I know it bothers you. I hope that means you’ll answer every question I send from now on, and I hope others will commit to this as well.”

God bless us, every email.

Here’s the latest batch of your burning questions, my smart aleck responses and the real deal. Happiest of New Years to all the Answer Nation, thanks for all your queries from 2013 and I can’t wait to see what fascinating and fervent Qs you come up with in the new year.

Question: I’m curious with everything going on about Obamacare and health insurance changes. Does Western North Carolina offer any sort of concierge doctor services? I’ve never heard of anything like that around here, but you’d think a city this size with so many retirees would have that option.

41 concierge doctorMy answer: I find if you just offer your doctor the option of either making a house call or explaining the Affordable Care Act to you they’ll just come right on over.

Real answer: Concierge doctors account for a relatively small percentage of physicians in the country, but there are a couple of options in the area.

Dr. Allen Lalor started Asheville Mobile Physicians in 2007 – a service to treat minor medical problems in patient’s homes, hotel rooms and offices.

Lalor said business has been slow in an economic downturn, and most of his patients actually come from local high-end hotels.

“It’s not inexpensive for me to be able to do it, but a lot of people really like having the option and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to be able to grow in the future,” Lalor said.

His practice was the first in Western North Carolina, to his knowledge.

Blue Ridge Premier Medicine is the only other concierge medical service he knew of, a three-physician internal medicine practice serving the Asheville area. Blue Ridge Premier Medicine operates with an annual fee, which does not cover any medical procedures. The fee for an individual is $2,700 per year and for couples or groups is $2,200 per person yearly.

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