Strangely enough, I find myself again this week pondering a New York Times health article, this time on concierge medicine.
I remember when I first heard about the concept awhile back, and thought the idea of paying a surcharge on top of the price my insurance company contracts with my doctors was ridiculous. I don't need to pay extra for a spa-like ambiance, nicer receptionists and more up-to-date magazines. And the costs for concierge practices were way out of my budget, tens of thousands of dollars of annual fees just to feel like I was getting to see some exclusive doctor. Yeah, definitely not for me.
But now I've spent a couple years watching USA Network's Royal Pains series, with a cute doctor who appeals way more to me than House, M.D. And suddenly, concierge doctors who can figure out complicated health issues and treat them on the spot are much more appealing than they used to be, even if the price tag is higher than "regular" doctors.
Of course, now my situation is different than it was back then, too. And I'm a little curious if the concierge practice here in Portland that's almost affordable (Greenfield Health) would even accept someone like me without charging an extra premium. After all, I already routinely get 40 minute appointments with my internist, and it's not unusual for them to stretch to an hour. And my insurance company does pay more for the longer appointments than it does for a normal 20-minute appointment, albeit not as much as seeing two different patients in that time period would.
I know my friend, the Queen of Optimism, has said many times in her blog that she'd happily pay an hourly fee or anything else out of pocket if her PCP was willing and able to spend some extra time talking to specialists and coordinating her care. She has even flown to Baltimore to consult several doctors at John Hopkins at her own expense.
I'm curious -- have you ever tried a concierge doctor? Checked one out but decided not to do it? What do you think about the concept? Will they keep an "expensive" patient, or would they dump her? (I.e. An expensive patient is one who uses a lot of a doctor's resources, whether it's office appointments, email, or the time it takes to coordinate care among specialists.)
Meanwhile, it's the time of year again that I most miss being able to sit at a desk for more than extremel short periods. Yep, I'm working on bookkeeping to close out our 2010 finances in preparation for doing both our taxes and our financial aid application, which is due next week. Getting a laptop and being able to use it both in bed and in my recliner saved my sanity, but they don't make it any easier for handling paperwork while on the computer. I'd love suggestions for things like document holders that clip onto a laptop and/or other ways to organize paperwork for use while using a laptop on, well, a lap. Let me know what you've used, and whether it's been successful or not. Thanks!
7 months ago