The image of a concierge medical practice is often that of an expensive form of personalized medical care, in which the physician is available for the patient 24/7. The traditional concierge practice does charge a membership fee that can range from $150 a month to $25,000 a year and offers the patient access outside the regular office visit. However, concierge medicine actually takes many forms, some much more affordable than many patients may realize.
A recent article in MedPage Today describes a range of successful concierge practices, including many hybrid models. Many practices are part of larger companies. One of the oldest concierge companies is MDVIP, launched in the year 2000 in Boca Raton, Florida. The practice has expanded to include 950 physicians in 43 states. Physicians in the practice “agree to reduce the size of their patient panel substantially, usually to anywhere from 300 to 600 patients.” The annual fee for the patient can range from $1650 to $1800. MDVIP boasts a 95% reduction in hospital readmission rates, as a direct result of its practice model.
Larger companies like MDVIP and Concierge Choice see their physicians as clients, for which they provide services such as marketing and accounting. Concierge Choice has concierge physicians in 24 states, serving “under 1,000 practices nationally.” In their model, “follow-up patient visits are covered either by private insurance, public programs like Medicare, or out of pocket if the patient doesn’t have other insurance.”
Independent physicians in concierge practices may also offer patients the option of enrolling under a membership fee or seeing the physician as a traditional patient, in a hybrid model. Physicians offer certain hours for each type of patient, usually spending more time during each visit with their concierge patients. For example, the independent physician may schedule two concierge patients during an hour slot but four traditional patients per hour. The traditional patients are able to continue to see their primary care physician while the concierge patients enjoy the benefits of their membership.