An evaluation of concierge medicine
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Concierge medicine is a model of care in which patients pay an upfront annual membership fee to belong to the practice. In return for the fee the doctor is contracted to give the patient a more dedicated and individualized model of patient care. Concierge medicine was created out of the frustrations primary care physicians felt towards the restrictions place on them by insurance companies. Physicians want to be able to practice good medicine and not be buried in tedious paperwork that restricts the amount of time they can spend with patients. Physicians benefit because they able to spend more time with their patients, allowing them to establish relationships with their patients. Physicians are actually able to practice medicine and worry less about restrictions placed on them by insurance companies. They can practice preventative care which is a crucial part of their job. Their incomes are also protected because their salary is not regulated by the number of patients they see a day and the number of tests and labs they may run. Most importantly, physcian’s are much more satisfied with their jobs because of the time they are able to spend with the patients. Patients benefit even more than physicians. They can have long conversations with their physicians, rather than being rushed. When they need to see the doctor, patients are able to make same day appointments and avoid long wait times in the waiting room. Patients have 24/7 access to their physicians, so whenever a question or issue comes up, it can be addressed. Patients receive preventative care, to be proactive in preventing bad health outcomes for the future and undergo less unnecessary testing. There is much controversy with concierge medicine because many feel it is not ethical to provide better care for those who can afford concierge medicine. Proponents of concierge medicine argue that it is affordable to people from all socioeconomic statuses. Critics believe that concierge physicians are denying care to people of lower socioeconomic status, but most concierge physicians have a form of scholarship care in place for people who cannot afford the fee. While there is much controversy surrounding concierge medicine, there is not concrete evidence that is benefits patients or causes harm to the health care system. Many studies need to be done to determine its benefits. It is known that it does leave patients feeling much more satisfied with the quality of care, than when they received care in non-concierge practices. The real issue that needs to be addressed in the health care system is how to provide a quality of care similar to that provided by concierge physicians for everyone.