Research points to concerns amid growing concierge medicine trend

Concierge medicine is a growing model in healthcare, but some are concerned about its impact on patients who cannot afford the fees, CBS News reported June 20.

Concierge care models involve paying a periodic fee to be a patient. These fees are not covered by insurance and can range from annual fees of $199 for Amazon's One Medical to $10,000 or more for top-branded practices such as Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital's concierge service.

Patients who can afford the fees describe better experience and relationships with their provider, but those who cannot can find themselves struggling to find another provider who is accepting patients. Many end up relying on pharmacy-based clinics, urgent cares or emergency departments for primary care.

"Concierge medicine potentially leads to disproportionately richer people being able to pay for the scarce resource of physician time and crowding out people who have lower incomes and are sicker," Adam Leive, PhD, a researcher at the University of California Berkeley, told CBS News. His research found no decrease in mortality for concierge patients, suggesting there may not be notable improvements in some health outcomes.

Some concierge providers said they are allowing patients to opt out of concierge care but stay at the practice at a lower tier of service, which can mean longer waits, shorter appointments and more visits with clinicians who may have less training than their previous provider.

There are 5,000 to 7,000 physicians and practices providing concierge care in the U.S., according to Concierge Medicine Today, and the market is expected to grow in revenue by 10.4% annually through 2030.

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