There is a small group of elite doctors in New York who won't get out of bed for less than a $25,000 retainer. They are Manhattan's concierge doctors, and their practice model is spreading across the country.
The New York Times just featured two physicians who are opening a new practice next month that lets customers ("various young internet moguls have already expressed interest in becoming patients.") see their Harvard-educated doctors as often as they like, for both medical and cosmetic purposes.
The terms of the service allow patients to call and text their doctors whenever they want, to schedule home visits, and even to fly their doctors out internationally when patients are away on vacation — all for a minimum $25,000-a-year retainer.
In states ranging from Alabama to Vermont to Texas, doctors are shifting their practices to concierge models as well — albeit at much lower subscription prices. In the Houston area alone, at least four offices now offer patients house calls, weekend access, and other concierge options for as little as $75 a month.
But shifting to the subscription model could end up leaving many at a disadvantage.
The concierge model cuts physicians' patient loads dramatically — one Vermont doctor said she went from 3000 active patients to 400 — which experts say could be good because it allows for more personal relationships, but bad because it could leave some people without access to medical care. Vermont, for example, currently has a shortage of primary care doctors.