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Boutique Options Offer Greater Choice in Medical Care

IMAGE In today's busy world of long wait times for appointments and short office visits, many patients and doctors crave increased individual medical attention that is more typical of yesteryear. Boutique or concierge medicine may be able to provide you with that option, but only if you can afford it.

Practice Specifics

Most boutique practices charge a high annual retainer that typically includes same-day appointments, short waits, and email or cell phone contact with the doctor. Some models include home visits and travel-medicine services. To provide this level of access, doctors accept a limited number of patients.

Concierge Concerns

Concierge practices have ignited controversy in the medical community. Some say these practices discriminate against those who cannot afford to participate.
Another concern with these practices is that physicians in them do not treat a wide variety of patients. Exposing themselves to different types of patients with different conditions helps them build experience.

Do You Want to Make the Switch?

Being well informed is essential. If you are considering changing to a boutique-style medical practice, take these steps:
  • Learn about the doctor’s experience and credentials.
  • Ask about access to specialty and emergency care.
  • Ask if the practice accepts your insurance plan and find out about their billing practices.
  • Be cautious of practices trying to have it both ways, with some patients receiving boutique access and others not.
  • Look for extra value, such as comprehensive exams and wellness plans.
  • Stay within your budget.
While debate continues about the bigger issues, individuals that can afford it seem eager to embrace the added convenience.

RESOURCES

American Medical Association http://www.ama-assn.org

United States Department of Health and Human Services http://www.hhs.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Conway C. Physician ownership of hospitals significantly impacted by health care reform legislation. University of Houston Law Center. http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/2010/%28CC%29%20Stark.pdf. Published April 2010. Accessed October 7, 2014.

Franklin D. Morning rounds: boutique hospitals and health insurers. National Public Radio website. Available at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2009/07/morning%5Frounds%5Fboutique%5Fhospit.html. Published July 13, 2010. Accessed October 7, 2014.

Silva C. Concierge medicine a mere blip on Medicare radar. amednews.com. 2010 Sept 30. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/09/27/gvse0930.htm. Accessed October 7, 2014.

US ‘boutique medicine’ could threaten care for the majority. Br Med J. 2002 Jan 26;324.

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