Concierge Medicine Is Not Just for the Wealthy

March 4, 2014

Filing insurance claims for routine care has driven up the cost of health insurance, says Jordan Bruneau, a research analyst at the Foundation for Economic Education.

The American health insurance model has turned basic, primary care costs into insurance claims. To bring down the cost of insurance -- which should be used to cover things such as serious illnesses, hospitalizations and surgeries -- basic health care maintenance should be divorced from more serious care.

  • Over the last 30 years, health care costs have increased by more than 400 percent.
  • But "about 90 percent of what most patients need can be accomplished at primary care," says Dr. Lee Gross, president of Epiphany Health.

Gross, a doctor in southwest Florida, was struggling to treat Medicaid patients because of the program's low reimbursement rates. After noticing that all of his Medicaid patients seemed to have iPhones, he devised a system that could treat such individuals for the same cost as monthly cell service. Concierge care has been derided as a health care option only for the rich, but Gross's clinic has proven that the benefits of concierge care are hardly limited to the wealthy.

  • By paying a flat monthly fee director to their doctor to cover primary care ($83 for an individual, $152 for a couple and $49 for a dependent child), patients have access to 25 office visits per year.
  • All primary care needs are covered, from physicals to mammograms to prostate screenings to routine labs and vaccines.
  • All patients receive a metabolic panel with a complete blood count, lipid test and thyroid panel. These tests would cost an uninsured patient $500, but the concierge model provides the testing at no extra cost.
  • Gross describes how one of his patients received a quote of $1,800 for blood tests from her doctor. She came to Gross's office and paid a total $85 in out-of-pocket costs.
  • Imaging services are also much less expensive in the concierge model. For example, Gross' patients pay $200 for a spinal MRI and $175 for a CT head scan.
  • Moreover, the model allows the purchase of a catastrophic insurance plan with a high deductible for just $100 a month.

Concierge care means immediate, quality and personal care for the patient. Incidentally, it is much cheaper than ObamaCare's bronze plan, which costs an average of $250 per month, not including copays.

Source: Jordan Bruneau, "Concierge Care for the Little Guy," Foundation for Economic Education, February 25, 2014.

 

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