Health Team

'Concierge care' offers medicine with personal touch

Posted July 29, 2013

— After moving from Texas, Shena Santillana had trouble setting up appointments with doctors.

“When I finally did find a doctor here in North Carolina that I liked, they left and went to a different practice or whatever,” Santillana said.

She's thankful to have found Dr. Gaither, but even he is dealing with problems on the business side of his practice.

“Our costs are going up. Our reimbursements are dropping. We're required to see more patients in a day,” he said. “I want to decompress my day.”

Many doctors are choosing partnerships with hospitals, but Gaither has chosen to keep his private status by changing to a "membership care" model, also known as concierge care.

Concierge care isn't new, but it's growing dramatically. Older plans required patients to pay an annual fee in addition to their insurance co-pays. Those fees can be as high as $1,500 to $1,800 a year, an amount that only the well-to-do can afford.

But now there are packages that offer tiered pricing.

Doctors turn to 'concierge care' to spend more time with patients Doctors turn to 'concierge care' to spend more time with patients

Skip Brickley, president and founder of Choice Care Advantage MD, says his tiered pricing starts at $300 a year.

Higher fees guarantee no wait times or even 24-hour, 365-day access to the doctor by phone or email.

The company takes care of the business end of the practice, while Dr. Gaither does what he got into medicine to do - spend more time with patients.

“Patients want to be heard. They want to be listened to,” he said.

Those who choose not to pay the annual fee can remain on their current insurance payments, but they may not see Dr. Gaither.

“We try and use extenders: nurse practitioners and physician assistants in non-critical instances,” Brickley said.

Santillana says she may be willing to pay an annual fee if it means more personalized care.

“You have one person looking at you as a whole,” she said.


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  • paranoidbetty Aug 5, 2013

    If more research had been done on this article, the following quote would have been disproved: "only the well-to-do can afford". That is truly not the case at all! I would recommend asking a few doctors with a concierge practice and you will find that many or most of their patients do not fit in this category. It all comes down to priorities in ones life!

  • cyrasiane Aug 1, 2013

    If Obamacare is not repealed, this will be the way of the future of -- let's call it what it is, folks --"socialized medicine." I worked with a nurse who came to the U.S. with her parents when she was a child and she then became an American citizen. She still has family in Italy and knows from their experiences that this is exactly what is going on there right now, and has been for several years. I'm certain that this is the case in any country that has "free health care." Sure, you can wait for "free" health care if you can afford the time to wait for months to see a doctor. Or, if you are lucky enough to have the funds, pay for the "concierge" type of care, you can see a doctor in a reasonable amount of time. Hope those of you who were duped into thinking that Obamacare was a good idea do not get seriously ill.

  • msha Jul 30, 2013


  • msha Jul 30, 2013