The term concierge medicine, coined in the 1990s, was controversial. It evoked fears of a two-tiered health care system in which only the wealthy were given preferred access and the poor had to wait.
Some of these arguments are still present as worries about primary care access grow amid expected physician shortages and 30 to 40 million newly insured patients entering the market through health care reforms. However, the concierge concept is getting a second look these days by independent physicians looking for a lifeboat to remain independent. It is also useful to recognize that some of concierge medicine’s most fundamental elements are already incorporated into the value-based payment methods being pursued by Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
Concierge medicine’s elitist image of the past is changing. Various stakeholders have a renewed interest in attributes of concierge medicine, including: 1) providers looking for a sustainable practice model from both a financial and lifestyle perspective, 2) patients wanting more personalized care at an affordable price tag and 3) payers and health systems seeking to reduce costs via improved population health.
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