NEW YORK (MainStreet)For years, experts have been predicting the transition of primary care doctors away from high patient loads and low reimbursements from health insurers to the potentially more lucrative and less time-consuming practice of concierge medicine.
Concierge doctors provide same-day appointments and 24/7 direct cell phone access. The national average annual fee is $1,612 to $1,800, according to the American Academy of Private Physicians.
Not all of these doctors seem to be reaping the financial benefits. Rather, they're reducing their workload. The average annual income for all internists in the United States is $191,520, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recently released three-year analysis of concierge and direct primary care doctors by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective found that the doctors who they surveyed from December 2009 to December 2012 earned between $100,000 and $300,000 a year. However, concierge doctors generally have a cap of between 300 and 600 patients, much less than the typical 2,000-plus patient load.But some of these concierge doctors do increase their income when they switch from a traditional practice to a concierge practice. Practices that use management companies with a concierge business model have less overhead and their doctors tend to earn more, according to Sarah K. Bloch, vice president of operations at Total Access Medical, which handles business dealings for seven doctors. Total Access Medical doctors earn between $200,000 and $475,000 annually, she says.
Some patients, too, are reaping the financial benefits of concierge medicine. Total Access Medical doctors charge patients between $2,000 and $2,800 annually but don't charge their insurance. Not only does that save the patients on co-pays or the percentage of the bill that they are responsible for paying, but it also can save on high premiums.