In concierge medicine, patients pay a doctor a monthly or annual fee in exchange for premium attention like same-day appointments and around-the-clock availability. This arrangement often excludes an insurance company, but most patients with concierge care also carry a health plan, for the likelihood that they will need healthcare their concierge doctor cannot provide.
The model has been around since the 1990s and continues to innovate at the edge of the healthcare field. Doctors with concierge practices like their smaller roster of patients and the reduced administrative burden, and patients like having immediate and unlimited access to their doctor. Critics say that by keeping patient loads small, concierge doctors are making the national shortage of doctors even worse, particularly in primary care. Supporters say that if all doctors could be concierge doctors, more people would enter the profession.