Paying more for health care is not something people want to do, but an investment in a relationship with a private physician is becoming a more and more popular choice. The private medical movement provides patients with the ability to select the type of care they want. Some choose private physicians to avoid waiting for treatment or because their work or family schedules make phoning and emailing their doctor more convenient. Others may have a such a high deductible that they put off seeing a doctor altogether. Many people see the benefits of paying a clearly defined and fair cash price for their care. They also want a professional relationship that offers technology-focused wellness and prevention, and they find these opportunities and more by choosing to establish a relationship with a private physician.
The Advantages of Concierge Medicine
Private physicians charge their patients directly for direct primary care membership and treatment. They will frequently post a menu of prices for services and require full payment at the time of service. Eliminating insurance billing can reduce over 40 percent of overhead expenses, resulting in lower fees for services. Other pros of using a private physician include:
- Personalization. Opting for concierge medicine allows the physician to target the local community’s needs. In high-income areas, the community may be okay with paying a higher fee for the features and extra care that concierge medicine offers.
- More time for patients. Because the monthly membership fee enables physicians to bring in more per-patient revenue, most private physicians cap their patient base around 300 or so without losing revenue. It avoids rushing patients through their appointments.
- Reduced overhead. Private physicians can circumvent most of the collections processes and billing procedures by charging an upfront fee, depending on the services they include with the fee. By having patients pay the membership fee and then pay directly for services rendered, practices can eliminate collections and coding staff.
- Better care. Greater patient care is an expected outcome of physicians spending extra time with their patients. Thoroughly discussing health issues during longer appointment windows relieves physicians of the burden of feeling compelled to treat as many patients as possible throughout a day.
Private doctors can offer their patients longer appointments, extensive access, after-hours consultations as well as unlimited check-ups and office visits.
Disadvantages of Choosing a Private Physician over Standard Health Care
Private physicians must consider the requirements that concierge services place on their practice. Many concierge practices provide a comprehensive array of services for their patients. If the practice has a small staff, it may be challenging at best to meet all of these obligations without hiring outside help. Other negatives of concierge medicine include:
- Pricing error risks. An inherent risk exists in computing an incorrect price point. The result is a less profitable bottom line.
- Loss of patients. Because many patients are familiar with the standard healthcare model, transitioning to concierge medicine may result in losing these patients.
- Higher expectations. Patients who select the concierge model of care expect to receive more fringe benefits than conventional healthcare offers.
Providing flat-fee visits is not enough to justify the membership costs for many patients. That means private physicians will need to include extra services to make concierge medicine worth the price.
Considering the Impact of Private Physicians
Concierge healthcare is an excellent choice for patients who want to receive extra attention from their doctors. However, in many situations, it is not a total replacement for health insurance. Many patients choose catastrophic health insurance alongside concierge healthcare to protect themselves in the event of a serious illness. The experts at the American Academy of Private Physicians are a network of private physicians and resource forum for innovative concierge medicine practices.