A mobile concierge doctor, also known as a direct primary care (DPC) physician, is a personalized primary care medical doctor providing direct care and treatment to patients rather than seeing them in a traditional office setting. These doctors often choose to form a private practice group that bills patients directly for their services rather than contracting with medical plans and insurance companies. This method of VIP care allows physicians to individually meet their patients’ needs and minimize the amount of paperwork associated with insurance billing and payouts. Mobile concierge doctors perform all the services that primary care physicians do, whether conducting routine annual wellness examinations, diagnostic screening, lab testing, wound care – even providing minor urgent care services such as treatment for minor skin conditions or administering stitches. Concierge doctors cannot, however, perform or provide major medical procedures, surgeries, or specialized treatments.
The fees for concierge medicine are considered an out-of-pocket expense and vary considerably, with the complexity of services based on a tiered fee schedule. Patients may pay a monthly fee; annual costs can range from $1,200 for a basic care plan up to $20,000 a year for more specialized services, and also depend upon the age of the covered individual(s). Some concierge physicians charge for their services with an annual membership fee, followed by a monthly payment or “retainer” fee. Some concierge doctors will work with your insurance plan and charge their membership fee. Direct primary care groups often offer family memberships, the fees for which are determined by the ages of all participants.
Increasingly, patients elect to pay this membership fee simply for the personalized service, individualized attention, and intensive access they receive from their concierge doctor. Often, patients can receive either a same-day visit or the next day, depending upon the urgency of their health issues.
“Boutique” medicine allows classically trained physicians to tend to their patients without the hamster-wheel approach of brick-and-mortar doctor’s offices. Sadly, institutionalized medicine has been systematically routed toward a strict insurance-for-services business model. For doctors to earn appreciable money for their services, they must pack their offices with back-to-back, brief, and superficial patient visits, compromising the complexities of many patients’ issues and concerns. Adding insult to injury – literally – this directly contributes to decreased patient satisfaction and increased miscommunication between medical professionals and their patients and bogs down the healthcare system with long wait times and frustrated, over-extended treatment providers. Ultimately, such delays are to the detriment of ailing and concerned patients.
By contrast, availability through enhanced patient-doctor communication expedites wellness visits, treatment protocols, medication applications, and improved overall health. Patient-accessible internet portals and increased telecommunication availability allow many visits to occur efficiently, often without needing face-to-face or in-person contact. Perhaps most beneficial is the peace of mind afforded to patients who may require more than one monthly visit, eliminating the worry of an expensive deductible or copay for every appointment. For patients dealing with chronic medical conditions, this individualized care and near-immediate availability can be the defining difference in the arc of their treatment and recovery. If you are experiencing a major health crisis, your concierge physician will be able to provide you with the coordinated specialist referrals and/or hospital care you may require*.
Best of all, the concierge doctor experience allows a far more personal relationship with your primary care physician. Your time with your doctor fosters complete communication and a more comprehensive understanding of your personal and familial medical history and your most current health issues and concerns.
*While the intrinsic value of concierge medicine is incalculable, it is equally important to understand that direct primary care is not an alternative nor a substitute for medical insurance, particularly for patients requiring the care of a specialist or who may have a condition that requires treatment which your concierge doctor cannot provide. Hospitalizations, specialist care, and additional services and treatments outside the scope of your concierge doctor will include charges and expenditures not covered by your concierge physician’s fees. (Please note that your health insurance company may reimburse some fees for your concierge physician, simply qualifying them as an out-of-network provider.) Because routine wellness examinations are included, you may wish to consult with your insurance carrier to explore a less comprehensive and, therefore, less expensive policy. It is crucial that if considering adding a concierge doctor to your team of healthcare providers, you factor in the fees for the services you can anticipate IN ADDITION TO any medical insurance you may already carry; these monthly & annual fees paired with your regular health insurance premiums can be expensive if not understood and anticipated. Lastly, remember that membership and monthly fees for concierge medicine vary from practice to practice and typically increase with age. If you are a participant in a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you may wish to contact your Benefits Representative to explore whether or not your DPC may be covered by these services.