Are Rich People Entitled to Better Medical Care?
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Annual Fee Required
Earlier this year, my mother, who is in her eighties, had a dilemma. She had received a letter from her doctor stating that if she wanted to remain on his patient list, she would have to pay an annual retainer fee. His practice was changing to the boutique style, or what is known as concierge medicine.
The letter included a bill for a $2000 yearly fee to his practice. This fee was over and above any fee for services. He would still accept insurance, and medicare as previously.
When she first told me about this, I had never heard of such a thing. Now, I realize it is becoming common practice. Concierge physicians supposedly give their patients better care and more time. They claim to answer phone calls, emails, and care about their patients.
Wait a minute, isn't that what doctors are supposed to do anyway? In my mother's case, she had only seen her doctor once for approximately five minutes, in all the years she had gone to him. All her appointments were with his nurse practitioner. Mom liked this nurse practitioner very well, but should she really have to pay $2000 yearly to see someone who isn't an M.D.?
For me, as a former nurse, this just doesn't feel right. I think it is just one more way to separate the rich from the poor.
According to Wikipedia, an "entitlement" is a guarantee of access to benefits. It also refers to a person feeling that they are deserving of some reward. The word "entitlement" is often used to refer to the very poor, or the extremely wealthy. Those of us in the middle class, are never referred to as entitled.
When it comes to medical care, I feel that everyone should receive equal care, and especially "Primary Care". Primary care that focuses on preventive care and wellness, should be available to all. It is this care that prevents costly hospitalizations due to untreated problems later on.
Any illness that is treated early, is better than one that is caught too late. Think of a simple appendectomy vs. a ruptured appendix. The difference is an uncomplicated surgery, and one day hospitalization vs. weeks in intensive care, and possible death. My own father died from a ruptured appendix.
Most nurses I have known, and worked with, treat all their patients the same. Nurses do not care for their patients based on what type of insurance they have, or if they come from a concierge practice. Often it is certain doctors who treat patients differently based on who they are, and how much money they have. Not all doctors are like that, but I have worked with some that definitely do not treat all their patients the same.
I imagine it is those doctors who would opt for a concierge practice.
Article About Problems with Boutique Medicine
Nonpartisan Overview of American Healthcare by William Roper
Where do you Stand?
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Luckily, my mother did not actually have to make a choice. The choice was made for her by her physician's patients as a whole. This doctor did not have a bedside manner that was deemed worthy of $2000 yearly by most of his patients.
In this case Concierge medicine was overwhelmingly voted down. Mom said that only a handful of patients paid the $2000. The rest said they would find another doctor. The practice had to rescind the letter, and try to coax their patients back. Many that left, reportedly stayed with their new doctor and did not go back.