• Boutique Options Offer Greater Choice in Medical Care

    IMAGE Although technology and research success have enabled medical miracles that were unimaginable decades ago, many patients and doctors crave personal care that is more typical of yesteryear. Boutique or concierge medicine may be able to provide you with that option, but only if you can afford it.

    Practice Specifics

    Most boutique practices charge a high annual retainer that typically includes same-day appointments, short waits, and email or cell phone contact with the doctor. Some models include home visits and travel-medicine services. To provide this level of access, doctors accept a limited number of patients.
    There are three practice models:
    • Model one: The yearly $600–4,200 retainer fee covers some extra services. The physician bills for separate visits and some physicians accept insurance.
    • Model two: The yearly $1,500–5,400 retainer fee covers all the patient's costs and the physician doesn't bill insurance or Medicare.
    • Model three: Physicians offer a retainer option in their practice.

    Concierge Concerns

    Concierge practices have ignited controversy in the medical community. Some say these practices discriminate against those who cannot afford to participate. Some doctors fear that limited practice sizes could increase crowding at remaining offices.
    Another concern with these practices is that physicians in them do not treat a wide variety of patients. Exposing themselves to different types of patients with different conditions helps them build experience.

    Equal Care for All?

    Nearly everyone recognizes that those who have the financial means more often buy better cars, private schooling, and other services. Medicine, though, has prided itself on providing equal care to everyone, yet some differences have always existed.

    Do You Want to Make the Switch?

    Being well informed is essential. If you are considering changing to a boutique-style medical practice, take these steps:
    • Learn about the doctor’s experience and credentials.
    • Ask if the practice accepts your insurance plan and find out about their billing practices.
    • Be cautious of practices trying to have it both ways, with some patients receiving boutique access and others not.
    • Look for extra value, such as comprehensive exams and wellness plans.
    • Stay within your budget.
    While debate continues about the bigger issues, individuals that can afford it seem eager to embrace the added convenience.

    RESOURCES

    American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org

    United States Department of Health and Human Services http://www.hhs.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca//

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    References

    Conway C. Physician ownership of hospitals significantly impacted by health care reform legislation. University of Houston Law Center. http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/2010/%28CC%29%20Stark.pdf . Published April 2010. Accessed September 17, 2012.

    Franklin D. Morning rounds: boutique hospitals and health insurers. National Public Radio website. Available at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/07/morning%5Frounds%5Fboutique%5Fhospit.html . Published July 13, 2010. Accessed September 17, 2012.

    Silva C. Concierge medicine a mere blip on Medicare radar. amednews.com. 2010 Sept 30. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/09/27/gvse0930.htm. Accessed September 17, 2012.

    US ‘boutique medicine’ could threaten care for the majority. Br Med J . 2002 Jan 26;324.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    HeartSHAPE® Test Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.