Healthcare Payments Articles

Concierge Medicine for Everyone - Category

Concierge Medicine for Everyone

Concierge MoneyThere is plenty of stigma around concierge medicine when it comes to cost. People have often associated the practice with only being for the super wealthy. However, that is not the case. CNBC sheds some light on this reality in a recent article titled “Doctors on demand: Affordable and getting more popular.”

Sharon Epperson of CNBC writes, “Most concierge physicians accept insurance, but paying a retainer in addition to insurance premiums may seem to some consumers like they’re paying twice. However, if you make some changes to your existing insurance plan, you may actually save money, Tetreault says. You could have a high deductible health insurance plan that’s paired with a health savings account. With a higher deductible, you’ll have lower premiums. You can put the money that you save on premiums in a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA). Those funds can be used for any expense that is directly related to a qualified medical service that has been provided—including some fees paid to the concierge practice. There are more than 4,000 concierge doctors in the U.S. today and 8,000 more are engaged in some type of ‘membership medicine’, where patients pay a fee for specific services, Tetreault said. Concierge Medicine Today allows you to search for doctors currently accepting new patients on its website.”

Forbes joins the discussion with an article titled “Concierge Medicine For All: Direct Primary Care Is The Solution For Our Health Care System.” Timothy Wingo of Forbes writes, “So what is the solution?  Re-unite the consumer of healthcare with the payer of healthcare. If we reintroduce market forces into healthcare, consumers will become more involved in their healthcare decisions and ask more questions. They will want to know if a test or procedure is really necessary, ie, going to add benefit and make them healthier, since they are paying for it more directly. This will decrease demand for many healthcare services which will in turn decrease costs. Pay doctors adequately for their time and expertise. This will encourage them to remain in private practice and utilize private companies for labs and imaging studies who charge a fraction of the cost.”

If you’re considering concierge medicine, your best bet in the Bay Area is Medicine Within Reach. We are a group of primary care physicians in San Francisco who believe that a strong patient-doctor relationship is essential to good health. We provide personalized services to make this special bond easily attainable. It is our mission is to partner with our patients in an integrated approach by navigating through the complex medical system for you.

Our services include comprehensive annual physical testing, women’s health testing, and preventative planning.

If you think concierge medicine could be the solution for you, contact Medicine Within Reach for a consultation.

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High Deductibles, HSAs and HRAs

insurance-healthYou’ve likely heard some of the lingo tossed around, either in general conversation or as part of the ongoing public debate about healthcare. When someone mentions a “consumer-directed health plan,” they are usually referring to a high-deductible insurance plan that is coupled with either a Health Savings Account (an HSA, which has tax advantages) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (an HRA, which is typically employer sponsored).

Last year nearly half of American companies offered a consumer-directed health plan of some sort, which is up nearly 10% from the year before, according to one company’s survey of employers. Enrollments in these plans were up 5% from 2013 to 2014, with 23% of covered employees opting for them. The average in-network deductible for an individual was $2,500. Family plans had deductibles of $5,000.

Among the trends that have begun to emerge is the tendency of low-income people with high-deductible plans to avoid going to the emergency room when they may be experiencing a medical problem. This is mostly due to the high amount of out-of-pocket expenses that low-income people wish to avoid.

In essence, high-deductible plans place more of the financial responsibility for medical services on patients. This, in turn, has a direct and noticeable effect on physician practices. “Doctors need to understand the landscape has changed,” says one expert. “A doctor’s primary concern used to be whether a patient had insurance. Now, it’s the type of insurance.”

And because patients are more cost-conscious, they are more apt to question physicians about certain costs for specific procedures. In some cases, says the expert, “Patients will also ask uncomfortable questions like: ‘Doctor, do I really need that MRI?’ ‘What’s that going to cost?’ ‘Can that test wait?’”

There is another way, of course. By choosing concierge care, you will have direct access to your own physician. We limit our membership of patients so that your health care remains our highest priority. When needed, our Board Certified physicians work cooperatively with you to provide access to a network of respected specialists. And we emphasize good preventative care as well as a personal relationship with all of our patients.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation. Dr. Sheena Kumar is currently accepting new patients.

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Retail Medicine and High-Deductible Plans

self-funding-policyAs more people continue to opt for high-deductible health plans – where insurance coverage kicks in only when a deductible amount, often in the thousands of dollars, is satisfied – retailers are beginning to show an increased interest in ramping up the healthcare options they provide to their customers.

In plain terms, this means that people may find themselves sitting in a waiting area at a local chain drugstore to receive a basic test that they would have traditionally gotten at their doctor’s office. After all, when consumers are actually paying out of pocket to cover their medical costs, it only makes sense to shop around for the best deal. A blood pressure screening is a blood pressure screening – whether done at Walgreen’s or in a suite of swanky medical offices on the 40th floor of a downtown skyscraper. Or so the thinking goes.

Last year, the Journal of Retail Medicine interviewed a pair of analysts covering the medical field to get their views on the viability of retail medicine.

Vaughn Kauffman, Health Industries Principal at PwC, says that retail medicine is a “game-changer” because of the cost/price tag factor. And because of a trend that affects nearly every business these days: customer service. With people having more and more choices available to them, every business is finding the need to put the customer’s needs first.

As Kauffman notes, “Because of that, organizations are trying to figure out how to better engage with consumers and obviously retailers have a great way of doing that, whether it’s because of their physical footprint with their storefront or even through their e-commerce presence.”

Another issue that will play a role in the choices consumers make for health care is brand loyalty. There’s a sense among consumers that, as with any brand, they have a good sense of what they will get for their money the moment they consider walking into this or that retail location. It’s the same sort of thinking that makes people become lifelong customers of a particular detergent or shampoo. “The convenience factor is an advantage as well,” says Kaufmann. “How often do you walk into a retailer on a given week versus walking into a hospital setting?”

Of course, there is an even better way for consumers to make the most of their healthcare dollars, while still taking advantage of brand loyalty and customer service: Concierge care, like that practiced at Medicine Within Reach, features attention paid by top-notch professionals whose primary care and concern is for you, the patient.

Schedule you complimentary consultation today. Dr. Sheena Kumar is currently accepting new patients.

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Cash-Only Medicine in Today’s Economy

The other day, a colleague in the medical field remarked that he had made the decision, as of the beginning of 2015, to go to a cash-only practice. For most of his 25+ years in medicine, he had accepted nearly every kind of insurance plan imaginable, even when it meant that he might not be […]

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Challenges in Healthcare Payments

Chances are painfully excellent that you or someone you know has dealt with a nightmare scenario in which an insurance provider failed to pay some or even all of a medical claim. At times, it can be difficult to navigate through the maze of claim specialists and processing centers. This situation, however, isn’t exactly new. […]

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