Concierge practices multiply as more docs drop Medicare

As growing numbers of physicians tire of keeping up with the increasingly frantic treadmill of traditional practice with the near-constant threat of doing it for less and less pay, it's possible concierge medicine may become less boutique and more mainstream.

The American Academy of Private Physicians, the trade group representing the concierge care movement, says more than 1,000 doctors have gone this route, slashing their patient loads to offer VIP service to those who pay a fee, reports the Fiscal Times. According to an American Academy of Family Physicians survey, 1.2 percent of respondents say they practice concierge, boutique or retainer medicine.

The numbers may still be small, but many physicians who've made the switch report that the grass is greener, in terms of both their personal and financial fulfillment. While most of the nation's primary-care physicians await month-to-month news of a looming pay cut, nearly 60 percent of all current concierge physicians are doing "better" financially than a year ago, while 29 percent indicated no change and 13 percent said they fared worse, according a February survey by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective, an Atlanta-based independent healthcare research center, a recent HealthLeaders Media article reports.

Some areas may be particularly ripe for a revolution--or perhaps mutiny--as physicians face millions of newly insured patients with which to keep up, suggests a piece on Dallas news outlet In Texas, physicians are currently abandoning all involvement with Medicare at a rate of 100 to 200 per year, according to the Houston Chronicle.

But while concierge care may be good for doctors and the mostly middle-class patients who are willing to pay for it, some say it creates an unfair two-tiered health system of the haves and have nots, the Fiscal Times points out. "The majority of us think it's an unethical and ultimately selfish way to practice medicine," Dr. Micheal Stillman, an internist at Boston Medical Center, told the website.

To learn more:
- check out this article
- read this Reporter News piece
- here's the Fiscal Times article
- read this article in the Dallas Chronicle
- read this HealthLeaders Media piece