Typical U.S. healthcare, regardless of how it is (or isn't) paid for, involves a patient with an issue who goes to see a doctor, or doctors, gets his or her treatment, and the case is closed. A majority of Americans have a primary care provider, but that provider is still visited on a "pay for what you need" basis.
With concierge healthcare, there is a monthly (generally… some do quarterly/annually/etc.) fee paid to a physician, and a given patient can reach out to their doctor any time for care. Most concierge medicine plans tell patients that they have 24 hour access to their primary physician, at least by telephone, and care is usually very quick, and without too many headaches. There are some cons, too, so here is a closer look at all things concierge healthcare.
Most people have at least one experience of sitting in a waiting room for hours on end because their ailment is quite bad enough to be urgent, but still needs to be checked out. Unimpeded access to a provider is a big plus for many who seek out concierge care. Proponents also point to in house care and care coordination as pros for concierge care. Small procedures can generally be done at the time of a walk-in, and if they can't, the constant communication allows for easy triage to other providers.
It is important to mention that not all concierge care centers are created equal, and some may offer more things than others, and some may not check all the boxes mentioned above. Generally, though, access to a provider is the major selling point for concierge care.
With the frequent access, also comes a more familiar relationship with your doctor, which is scientifically proven to improve care in any venue. Therapeutic communication in nursing is being heavily implemented in an attempt to make a patient's visit to a hospital be more comfortable, and with concierge health, that comfort is generally wound into the fabric.
The membership fees mentioned before don't cover anything other than that access to your provider, and those fees are not covered by insurance. With that, even if you have the healthiest of months, you're still out a couple hundred dollars, and even if you do seek healthcare, those fees do not cover anything, so your copay still very much exists. In addition, some concierge practices do not work with Medicare or Tricare either, so be wary.
As it's still a new service, proximity to doctors can be an issue, and even with "24-hour access," lines can happen. If you're in a place where concierge options are few, but popularity is growing, you might not wind up with the wide open access to your provider as promised.
Even with a fair amount of cons, the concierge healthcare market is expected to grow in the near future. Doctors, for one, are quicker to gravitate towards concierge because they get to work in a small office setting which allows for a lot more freedom and, ultimately, less stress. After a life in medicine, an option that involves less stress could be very enticing to a physician, and there is reason for optimism that this will lead to lower monthly fees, too, as the market gets more competitive.
Artificial intelligence is also making great waves in healthcare, and it allows smaller offices to offer more services, thanks to machine learning and web-based care. We all know the saying that kids are the future, and the younger generations tend to gravitate more towards the AirBNBs than the big hotels, and concierge health compared to hospital care is a pretty good comparison to those things.