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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

What’s Up Doc?

Published June 25, 2012 9:16 AM by Barbara Mercer

My  primary care provider and I have been together for about 15 years now. He’s seen me through ear infections,  the removal of a potentially cancerous growth, some nasty acid reflux, a dog bite, a surgery, a sprained ankle and the gaining and losing of the “same” 20 pounds a few times over the years, all with professional guidance,  kindness and zero judgment.

Things I love about this physician are his openness to complementary therapies and alternative treatment methods; his commitment to preventive care; and how he rarely prescribes medication as the first line of defense. Another thing I appreciate about his office visits is that he always sits down and talks to me.  He asks what’s going on in my life, he explains blood work results and he never seems rushed, although I know he has other patients waiting.

So, when I received a letter in the mail that announced he was moving toward an even more personal and preventive approach, I was excited. The letter outlined how he would be paring down the practice, which would enable him to provide even more time and personal attention to each of his patients.

This was right in line with how he practices medicine and how I want to be treated by a primary care provider. I went to his new website, hosted by the company he would be affiliating with in order to develop this new model. And my bubble burst.

Turns out that to take part in this new model of care, people wishing to “join” the practice need to become members and pay a fee. A $1,500 fee.

My excitement morphed into disappointment. An extra $125 a month isn’t in my budget right now. And I was already very satisfied with the care I’ve been receiving at the current rate: a small bit from my paycheck and a co-pay for the office visit. 

A little more web surfing helped me put a name to what’s going on here. It’s called concierge medicine, and it seems that suddenly, I’ve fallen into the category of individuals who aren’t able to access the “best” healthcare.

How can that be? I’m employed full time, I have health insurance and, living in a major metropolitan area, access to care providers has never been a concern. Until I learned I will no longer have access to the one provider I’d like to see.

Have you experienced this in your own care, or do you work at a practice that has moved to this model? What were the results?

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