Health consultants fill primary care void for wealthy patients

It's no secret that there is a serious shortage of primary care physicians in the United States. To capitalize on the need, a new kind of health adviser has entered the market in recent years to fill the void. Insurance carriers won't cover this sort of service, but well-heeled, health conscious families have proven willing to pay between $7,000 and  $100,000 in annual membership fees to have health experts on call. One such consulting firm, Manhattan-based PinnacleCare, founded in 2002 has 3,600 clients worldwide, including the families of 20 billionaires.

While clients are able to receive 24/7 access to medical advice, such services are unregulated, and the liability of these advisers has yet to be tested. One of the medical consultancies plans to establish an Association of Private Healthcare Advocates in an effort to organize and legitimize this emerging health care niche. Notably Senator Ted Kennedy sought the counsel of one of these firms, just weeks ago when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

For more information:
- read the full Boston Globe article