The Doctor Will See You Now ... For An Extra $1,500
A Florida company is at the epicenter of what's called Concierge Care
Today, Ascherman is one of a growing number of patients gladly shelling out from $1,500 to as much as $20,000 a year for concierge primary healthcare. Colton's fee these days is $1,650.
Is Ascherman healthier? That's unclear, but she's convinced she's getting better care -- the kind of bedside manner that more than justifies Colton's extra charge. "I cannot tell you the time, the attention and the personal concern," Ascherman says. Colton expedites her medical tests, calls to check on her when she's sick and remembers everything she's ever told him during follow-up visits. "It's far better medical care than I ever expected."
Also known as boutique or personalized medical care, concierge practices first popped up in the U.S. in Seattle, in 1996. A decade later, relatively few doctors have switched to the approach ["Self-Limiting or Hot Trend?" page 70]. But the numbers are growing, and Florida is at the forefront of the trend, led by Boca Raton-based MDVIP, a management company that helps doctors convert to concierge practice.
Colton, Kaminetsky and other Florida concierge doctors say the trend is inevitable -- the outcome of an insurance-driven medical system that continues to lower reimbursements and forces doctors to increase their patient loads. By asking patients to subsidize their practices, concierge physicians say, they can keep patient numbers small, giving the doctors time to talk in-depth with patients and provide the type of preventive care that keeps people from getting sick in the first place.
PAY RAISE: Dr. Bernand Kaminetsky (right) and Dr. Robert Colton contract with MDVIP. Kaminetsky says compensation for him and his staff increased 60% since switching to concierge service.