You Can Keep Your Doctor*


Among the myriad of Obamacare “promises,” Americans were assured by the President that “no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” Just like all the other guarantees, this one comes with an asterisk and fine print, which reads: *keeping your doctor may cost you more under Obamacare.

Florida-resident Cynthia is one of those who is forking over more money to do so.

“My health care insurance has now gone up to $800.00 dollars a month. My physician has become a concierge doctor because of the system being put in place. This has cost me $1,800.00 a year to stay with my doctor,” said Cynthia.

While limited networks within the new plans are causing some to pay more to keep their family physician, there is another factor, which seems to be emerging. Doctors are not only revolting against the new healthcare law – like in California – but some are foregoing traditional means of practice and opting for a more patient-oriented solutions like concierge care.

“I want to stay with my doctor,” claimed Cynthia, which is why she decided to pay for the service. However, it’s becoming too expensive, especially with her new higher-priced premium.

“Next year, I will not be able to afford this – either I pay my mortgage or the cost of having this insurance.”

Knowing what the Affordable Care Act is doing to practices and doctor-patient relationships, Cynthia understands why her doctor made the move, although, it doesn’t make the financial commitment any easier. She believes concierge care could be a viable solution to the upcoming doctor shortage, which will bring primary care services to a crawl. But, in order for it to go mainstream, the pricing needs to be scaled down.

One doctor is already doing that.

“When Samir Qamar practiced concierge medicine at Pebble Beach Resorts in Monterey, Calif., the hotel’s “A-list clientele” paid $550 to see him and as much as $30,000 a month to keep him on retainer. But last year, Dr. Qamar decided to abandon VIP medicine and pursue a no-frills version of his practice, charging just $59 for monthly membership to his MedLion clinics (16 locations in five states) and $10 a visit—and never billing insurance. Dr. Qamar is part of a new and growing generation of concierge doctors who, in this era of health reform, see more opportunity in the middle class than they do in the jet set.”

While some have viewed this trend favorably, others see it as creating a greater divide in the class of care, but will it? Bloomberg featured a story about Atlas MD, a concierge clinic, that treated a homeless woman for 3 months.

“But he and Umbehr are proud that they were able to restore her health for $147, including tests and prescriptions. (They made money on her monthly retainer, but not on the tests and labs. Atlas MD provides them at cost.)”

No matter where you stand on the issue of concierge care, even supporters of Obamacare agree it is lowering healthcare quality nationwide.

Active in her community on a grassroots level, Cynthia shared, “People are telling me they can’t get their prescriptions.”

The losses under this “train wreck” have vastly outweighed the gains, and for people like Cynthia, keeping the doctor she likes and trusts may not be financially possible in the future.