Direct Primary Care: Affordable Concierge Medicine

The Hartford Courant showcased two primary-care physicians on page one.  Drs. Jane Walker and Kathleen Mueller offer two concierge pricing options at their Windsor office (Holistic Health Partnering, LLC.)  Patients can elect to a $55 fee for each visit, or a $30 monthly fee plus $15 per visit.  Most think of concierge medicine as requiring annual retainer fees in the $1000+ range, but this plan offers similar access at a lower price point.  (Holistic Health does participate with Medicare, but not with other insurance plans.)

Patients get enhanced physician access, and may get a level of care and attention beyond that of a typical primary-care practice.  Physicians  relieve themselves of much of the costly support operations of billing and administration, chasing accounts receivable, and the like.

Assuming a non-concierge practice administrative cost of 33%, the $55 visit charge corresponds to a $73.15 insurance payment.  A non-cash benefit to the doctor is easier documentation for the concierge visit.  The note can be “whatever the doctor thinks it needs to be”, rather than fulfilling bullet-point billing criteria corresponding to various levels of office visit under the insurance plan.  I am disregarding the minor-but-not-zero monetary advantage to the doctor of getting cash up front (concierge)  rather than cash later (insurance).

Which plan should a patient choose?  The answer depends on how many visits one anticipates in a given year.  Annual costs are the same under both plans at 9 visits per year ($495).  Above that number, the retainer plan offers better value.

Concierge medicine continues to evolve, and represents a method for primary-care physicians to find a business model that works for them as well as for patients.  This plan shows that concierge medicine can be an affordable method of obtaining primary-care access.

Disclaimer:  Although I am not personally familiar with the above physicians, I am a graduate of the same medical school.


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