Concierge Medical Practices Lead To Concerns About Medicare

New stories have been coming out frequently for some time now, pointing out that some of the key assumptions behind the government’s healthcare takeover health care reform law are flawed and create a slippery slope to more and more big government interference in our private financial and medical affairs.  In this article we highlight one such issue:  The growth in so-called “concierge practices” provides more evidence that many people have had it with paperwork and bureaucratic barriers to care.   When people can chose how to pay for their care and who to go to for that care, they are willing to do so.  The freedom to do so may threaten the takeover reform plan.

Now, from The Associated Press, this story:

Every year, thousands of people make a deal with their doctor: I’ll pay you a fixed annual fee, whether or not I need your services, and in return you’ll see me the day I call, remember who I am and what ails me, and give me your undivided attention.

But this arrangement potentially poses a big threat to Medicare and to the new world of medical care envisioned under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul.

The spread of “concierge medicine,” where doctors limit their practice to patients who pay a fee of about $1,500 a year, could drive a wedge among the insured. Eventually, people unable to afford the retainer might find themselves stuck on a lower tier, facing less time with doctors and longer waits.

When a primary care doctor switches to concierge practice, it means several hundred Medicare beneficiaries must find another provider.

Does that create an environment in which the government will eventually dictate to doctors that they must take Medicare patients or Medi-Cal (our version of Medicaid) patients, or that consumers may not pay extra for extra services?  Don’t be too quick to dismiss such concerns.  There are already examples of such laws, for example laws requiring pharmacists to dispense drugs that they object to on moral grounds and court decisions saying the doctors cannot decline some patients based upon the doctors’ religious beliefs.

From the consumer’s standpoint, is it too far fetched to think that the government could prohibit us from paying for extra medical services?  After all, the so-called health care reform law takes the position that the government can require us to purchase health insurance.  Is it really a big leap for the government to next tell us what we can’t pay for?  Case in point: In Canada, under their nationalized healthcare system, Canadians are prohibited from paying extra for healthcare in order to obtain services that they want that are not authorized under the national system.

As a wise man once said: The government that is big enough to give you all that you want is big enough to take away all that you have.

For the complete Associated Press story, see:  High-end medical option prompts Medicare worries

This is our editorial opinion.  We welcome responsible comments from others.

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Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to HealthLine.com and to FamilyAffaires.com as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.

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