More Texas Doctors Switch To Concierge Medicine Model

More doctors in Texas plan to make the switch to primary care out of frustration with the current healthcare system…………………………….

More Texas Doctors Switch To Concierge Medicine Model

By Bianca Castro

Published Oct 26, 2018

According to a new survey, more doctors in Texas are leaving the standard way of giving care for what’s called direct primary care, sometimes also called concierge medicine. Experts say the move is out of frustration with the current healthcare system.

An old trend in healthcare is making a comeback that experts say could have a big impact on your health and your wallet.

It’s a model of medicine in which you pay your doctor directly in exchange for personalized care.

For the Struck family of Frisco, health is everything…

Erin Struck is a breast cancer survivor and Brad Struck is a busy executive, without a lot of time to be sick.

Both need to be able to keep up with their 10-year-old son Caden.

“We are busy with work. We are busy with family. To busy to be slowed down by a sinus infection or a sore throat or things that like, the quicker you can knock those out the better,” said Brad Struck.

However, the Strucks say frustrations mounted every time they did try to see their doctor.

They say they either had to wait days, or see a nurse or physician assistant instead and recently, when Erin tried to get some blood work for an upcoming reconstructive surgery, she couldn’t get in with her doctor as soon as she expected.

“I couldn’t get in! So they basically returned the phone call and said, ‘okay we worked you in with a P.A.’ and I said to Brad, ‘that’s it. we are done.’ I’m just so sick and tired of being a number,” said Erin.

So they made the switch to a concierge doctor.

“I like the title of personal physician better,” said Dr. Bryan Lowery, one of the growing number of doctors in North Texas now practicing concierge medicine or direct primary care.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the direct primary care model gives physicians an alternative to fee-for-service insurance billing, typically by charging patients a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee that covers all or most primary care services including clinical, laboratory, and consultative services, and care coordination and comprehensive care management.

Membership fees can vary anywhere from $50 a month several thousand dollars a year and in exchange, the patient joins a doctor’s practice and will have access to that doctor at anytime of day, whether by phone or in person.

The fee is in addition to your normal health insurance costs.

“You don’t have unlimited funds so you decide what’s important to you. Healthcare at 80-years-old is important,” said Jim Dean, who recently moved from California and says he had trouble finding a doctor in North Texas accepting new Medicare.

I know my patients. I know what they have. I know their medications. I know their medical problems. I know their personalities. I know how to take care of each one in a different way and that’s the benefit of concierge medicine,” said Dr. Lowery.

Once thought for the rich and famous, industry experts say concierge medicine is becoming more mainstream and not just for frustrations like the Strucks.

A survey performed by Merritt Hawkins Physician Staffing firm found more doctors in Texas than in any other state except for Kansas plan to make the switch to primary care out of frustration with the current healthcare system.

“Physicians have spoken loud and clear. They want less paperwork, less bureaucracy, less people involved in care with that patient, like third party payers that don’t directly influence their health and if this is the way to give that care to their patients, they’re going to take it,” said Travis Singleton, Executive Vice President at Merritt Hawkins.

However, he says it could spell bad news for some.

Experts say if the trend continues, there’d be fewer doctors for the families who can’t afford the concierge model.

“There is no doubt that this would absolutely stretch our physicians more in a time when we can’t afford to do that. We don’t have enough physicians period,” said Singleton.

Still, when it comes to providing the best care possible, Dr. Lowery says this model allows him to do.

He went from 2000 patients at a big corporate practice to fewer than 250.

“Practicing this kind of medicine definitely helps me sleep better at night,” said Dr. Lowery.

It also helps the Strucks rest easier knowing their doctor is just a phone call away.

Some direct primary care practices don’t accept health insurance.