Concierge Medicine and Mental Health Care

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Some physicians, not satisfied with the paperwork, intrusive regulations,and reimbursement delays and problems in the medical field, as well as salary limits, which they believe are not fair for the level of responsibility entailed in medicine, are opting out of the field and starting so-called concierge practices.

In a concierge practice, a physician, usually an internist, agrees to handle all of the medical care and referrals for a particular patient for a yearly fee. Some concierge practices charge around 4,000 per year and are limited to “small” numbers of patients, such as 200 hundred.

Patients in a concierge practice are typically seen on the same day that they call for service, and they receive a special 24 hours that can be used to contact the physician anytime.

Debate goes on concerning this manner of practicing medicine. Proponents suggest that it does offer a higher level of care and that the difference in service level is similar to what those who have more money can devote to things like higher education. Others suggest that it creates a different caste of medical care, one that is unfair to the poor and those of modest financial means.

I have not seen any research on whether more referrals are made from concierge physicians when their patients display problems like depression or anxiety. It is even possible that, because of the close relationship developed between a concierge physician and patient, much of the treatment might be effectively done within that relationship.

This interesting vehicle of providing medical services is worthy of further attention.

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