More about “concierge” medicine with a jolt from my sister, Doctor Deb
In response to my post yesterday (“I lost my MD”), my sister, a nephrologist (the kidneys), commented. Her take is not as empathetic about physicians as I’ve been. Her comment is so great, I’m posting it here, as well, and then I’ll follow up with quotes from the “concierge practice” letter I got from my doctor.
I agree except to paint a slightly more jaundiced insiders view. VERY FEW of these concierge physicians deserve concierge fees. Too many are greedy mediocre physicians who always valued their income and lifestyle over commitment to delivering best care to their patients. I know of ophthalmologists and neurosurgeons who have reaped incomes in the millions of dollars each year. This is often way above paying the rent and malpractice costs. Many of my highly esteemed peers have been delivering what’s now labeled “concierge care” for years. We were not facing economic hardship. We understood that the great satisfaction which comes from the best practice of medicine is sometimes worth more than dollars and cents. Most of our incomes were more than sufficient without “extorting “ extra fees. Those who practice with caring are the physicians whom I hold in highest esteem. They are the many who went into medicine for all the right reasons; the honor of providing comfort and saving lives. I do not mean to underplay the higher and higher costs of obtaining a medical education and those of staying in practice. These are mounting concerns for all of us. Economics are resulting in terrifying shortages of primary care physicians and some critical specialists who are perceived by medical students as working too hard for insufficient incomes. That is an entire other subject, i.e, training medical students in a “9-5” model of care.
Physicians missed the boat when they allowed themselves to be prostituted by big business. This completely deranged construct of the “business of medicine” which accepts profiting from others’ misfortune as perfectly fine, is what is destroying healthcare today. Physicians should have understood that WE are the necessary foundation of high-quality care and should have unionized years ago. We should have demanded our rightful place at the head of the table to structure healthcare delivery and negotiate fair fees. We failed to do so due to many disparate goals and some unscrupulous greedy physicians there too. To now make unwitting ill patients suffer in some game of musical chairs to reclaim power and an upper class CEO lifestyle is unconscionable and unprofessional. Beware of this VIP con. This is extortion plain and simple in a world where physicians understand there’s a dreadful shortage of true professionals going into primary care and patients have no control over any of this mess.