Today, there is a new phenomenon in medical care. Individuals are paying their doctors a fixed annual fee. They pay their doctors this fixed annual fee whether they use their services or not. The fixed annual fee is usually in the area of $1,500 a year. The annual fee is for what is now referred to as concierge medicine.
Concierge medicine refers to situations where doctors limit their medical practice to those patients that pay the annual fee. This type of concierge medical practice can create a two tier system for medical care in the United States. Unfortunately, Americans who can’t afford to pay the $1,500 retainer fee to their doctors may be stuck in what may be considered a lower tier of medical care.
It is estimated there are approximately two thousand doctors in the United States that are utilizing this concierge medical care system. The large majority are primary care physicians. It is estimated that more than 300,000 individuals and families have paid these retainers and are utilizing concierge care physicians.
Concierge Care Provides Better Medical Service to Patients
Concierge care physicians claim that this system provides more personal attention and promotes a better doctor-patient relationship. If a concierge care physician has two hundred patients at a $1,500 retainer basis, he or she starts the year with a minimum of $300,000. This is a very hefty sum of money. The theory behind concierge care is if the doctor has less patients to treat, each of those patients will receive a higher standard of medical care. In addition, the doctor also bills medicare, medicaid and private insurance companies for covered medical services.
Two Tiered Medical System
John Rother, policy director for The American Association of Retired Persons, feels that this may create a dual medical system and that it would have a negative effect on middle class Americans and individuals on medicare. When you take into consideration the fact that, under President Obama’s new health care program, it is estimated that as many as 34 million more Americans are qualified for medicaid in the United States, a two tiered system for medical care is becoming a real possibility. In the two tiered medical system, Americans with financial resources will receive high quality medical care. The question is what will happen to the quality of medical care for those who can’t afford the annual fee.
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