Concierge care – could it hurt patients?

http://www.nbc-2.com

COLLIER COUNTY: A new trend in the medical field called concierge medicine gives patients access to their doctor 24 hours a day 365 days a year, but its high price has some worried they won’t be able to afford the treatment they need.

The doctors say concierge care lets them get back to basics. They narrow down the number of patients they take care of and eliminate insurance from the equation.

“We lost control of our businesses many, many years ago and insurance companies are taking over,” said Dr. J.P. van Dongen.

Dr. van Dongen says concierge medicine allows him to spend more time with patients. Four years ago, he was treating 4,500 patients in his group practice. That number is now down to 300.\

“The patient got lost. The first question asked is where is your insurance card? That’s not the partnership I look for when I’m working with a patient,” said Dr. van Dongen.

But some patients worry the high cost of concierge care is making it impossible for them to find a physician. A concierge doctor generally charges a fixed annual fee that can be as high as $10,000 a year.

Six months ago, 76-year-old Ellen Norbom’s doctor decided to practice concierge medicine.

“They say you can’t come here unless you pay $10,000 a year. We don’t know what to do,” said Norbom.

She is worried that doctors will leave general practice for concierge care making it harder to find a doctor she and others can afford.

“It’s an elites service. Even in wealthy Naples, how many people can afford that kind of fee?” said Norbom.

Concierge medicine may be gaining in popularity among doctors, but the Medical Society isn’t worried it will take over.

“The medical society isn’t that concerned that this will be a complete trend, but it is definitely a new trend,” said Dr. Joseph Gauta, Collier County Medical Society.

So far only 12 doctors in Collier have made the move to concierge care. Before they transition, they are supposed to pre-arrange for a new doctor to take over their patient list.

If you are a patient not satisfied with the physician that has taken over, call the Medical Society at 435-7727 so they can help.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at nbc-2.com, however they either moved or deleted it. We have looked for the original so we can link to it, but were unable to locate it. We have left this article on CG’s site for archiving reasons.

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