It used to be oh-so-simple. My dad had a company doctor. A cultured and capable humanitarian, I will always owe Dr. Mosko a debt of gratitude for finding a loving family to adopt this slightly defective foundling.
He always made time if my folks needed to see him and called on them when they were hospitalized.
Our longtime former family doc was the same way. He always took time to talk without his meter running. He took a personal approach to his patients and his practice. It already seems old-fashioned.
Under-compensated by truculent pinch-penn
y insurance companies, frustrated by new mountains of needless paperwork that served only to take time away from patients, our doctor threw in the towel. He’s pursuing a new path in medicine in which he can once again express his passion by working directly with patients.
We miss him but certainly can’t blame him.
That old family doctor prototype is all but gone and it’s not coming back, unless you’re willing to pay for it. And pay big. Now the wife and I are once again at a medical crossroad.
Our family doctor — the most recent one — is embracing this relatively new approach to medical care. It’s called “Concierge Medicine.”
Concierge Medicine sounds kind of cool and evokes an image of the concierges at better hotels. Stationed at the front desk, they’re fonts of knowledge and can help grease the wheels to meet your special needs, as well as order special services.
If I understand it correctly, concierge medicine is somewhat the same, without the theater tickets and reservations at posh restaurants.
Approaches vary but patients typically pay a retainer that gives them preferred and expedited access to their doctor. Additionally, our doc is not going to take any insurance. None. Some doctors will still take insurance, but may no longer accept Medicare. This is a new and frustrating development for yuppies, long awaiting the glories of “free” medicine. Medicaid patients, already limping along with few options, are probably now saying, “Welcome to my world.”
With the increasing number of Americans newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, some physicians have already been inundated with a flood of new patients, many of whom are insured under Medicare and Medicaid. With the ever-shrinking reimbursements from the government, and ever metastasizing requirements coming down from on high, many are finding it difficult to navigate these roiling waters and keep their practices from drowning.
concierge medicine is aimed at preserving the relationship with one’s personal physician. Instead of focusing energy, staff and resources on paperwork and codes and nonsense, doctors want to be with people. They want to help people and also earn a living. It’s a job, a passion, a craft and a calling.
I totally get it. But I’m not sure if the wife and I can afford it. We have to think about this.
I like to believe that in our community, despite the usual criticisms, medical professionals want to serve. And they need to be compensated fairly for this service.
The fact they feel pushed around is a sad consequence of the ACA. We all hoped the new law would help the average American afford health insurance. Most knew it was going to get rocky. Hang on. It’s going to be a rough ride.
Dan MacArthur is a Fort Collins writer who hates talking healthcare.