|2480 Windy Hill Road, suite 200, Marietta, Georgia 30067,...770.952.4456 Review Us on >>|
|Regular Hours Monday-Friday SATURDAY HOURS---8AM-NOON Se habla Español|
in the Windy Hill Professional Building The Medical Center
Windy Hill EXIT & I-75 WEST Side of I-75, slightly West of Wellstar Medical Center on same side of street.
|GP Doctor & Professional Laboratory|
|DRUG TESTING + DNA Paternity Testing + Occupational Med + Worker's Compensation + Post accident 24 hour drug, alcohol and management services + Screening for STD's + Anonymous HIV Testing + Drug Screening + Cholesterol Diabetes Testing|
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Concierge medicine (also known as
direct care) is a relationship between a patient and a primary
care in which the patient pays an annual fee or
retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges.
In exchange for the retainer. Other terms in use include boutique medicine, retainer-based
medicine, and innovative medical practice design.
The practice is also referred to as membership medicine, concierge health care, family only practice, direct care, direct primary care, and direct practice medicine.
All generally claim to be accessible via cell phone or email at any time of day or night or offer some other "special" service above and beyond the "normal" care provided. The annual fees vary widely, from $600 to $5,000 per year for an individual, with the lower annual fees being in addition to the usual fees for each service and the higher annual fees including most services.
COD = self-pay they talk about his aches and pains, his heart problems and his diet, but never about his health insurance.
When O'Brien leaves the exam room, he writes a check for $50 and he's done — no forms, no ID numbers, no copayments.
"This is traditional medicine. This is what America was like 30 years ago," said O'Brien, 55 and self-employed, who believes he has saved thousands of dollars by dropping his expensive insurance policy. "It's a whole world of difference."
Is this the healthcare wave of the future? Probably not, experts say. Most people are content with monthly premiums and $10 copays; nine out of 10 contract with managed treatment companies.
For the 43 million Americans who lack health insurance, family-only is a fact of life when a trip to the pharmacy cannot be avoided.
Even when treating patients who are insured, - frustrated by red tape at the insurance companies - view family-only medicine as an increasingly attractive way to run their businesses.
"It's a terrible indictment of the collapsing healthcare system," said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the medical ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. "Insurance and managed were supposed to streamline - instead what they've done is add so much paperwork and bureaucracy they're driving some out."
Health insurers downplay the trend, while emphasizing recent efforts to mend tattered relationships between managed companies.
"I don't look at it as a threat," said Mohit Ghose, spokesman for the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans. "It's just a different way of practicing."
Medical establishment leaders don't object to working for simple cash.
"This is America. One size does not fit all," said Dr. John C. Nelson, president-elect of the American Medical Association.
An obstetrician-gynecologist in Salt Lake City, Nelson easily recalled times when he believed managed rules prevented his patients from getting the best treatment. He said family-only are driven by the desire to practice medicine without interference.
"There is a great intrusion by third parties into the patient-physician relationship," Nelson said. "We can understand their frustration."
Cherewatenko, a broad-shouldered 45-year-old who wears black jackets and red stethoscopes at work, switched out of desperation six years ago. His suburban Seattle practice was hemorrhaging money, and he and his partners realized they were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars just to process insurance paperwork.
"We said, 'Let's cut out this administrative waste,"' Cherewatenko said. Before, he charged $79 for an office visit and got $43 from an insurance company months later, minus the $20 in staff time it took to collect the payment. Now he charges $50 — and he never worries about collection costs, because patients pay in full after every visit.
Cherewatenko sees fewer patients now. His whole office would probably fit inside his old waiting room. But he says the freedom is worth it.
"Accounts receivable is zero. It's a great feeling
He started a group called SimpleCare to spread the gospel only medicine. The organization steers patients who offer discounts, and gives technical and moral support to those who want to start cutting their ties to insurance. Membership has grown to 22,000 patient members and 1,500. Some reject all insurance and take only, while others continue to accept insurance while offering discounts of 15 percent to 50 percent for paying patients.
Independent of SimpleCare in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi and other states have also quit the insurance game. Some tired of the paperwork and administrative expenses. Some wanted to spend more time with patients without managed treatment bean-counters peering over their shoulders. The patients who pay range from poor to wealthy, with most in the blue-collar middle.
"When I first started, I thought it would be the elite. That's not the case," said Dr. Shelley Giebel, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Temple, Texas, who washed her hands of insurance eight years ago.
Her standard, hour-long annual checkup costs $140. Everyone pays.
If a patient needs extra tests or treatment, Giebel tells them upfront what it will cost.
"If it is an urgent care test, we'll go ahead and do it. We're not going to delay medical treatment because they don't have the money in hand," she said. Often, patients return later with the money.
"It has usually not been a problem that people forgo medical treatment," she said.
The family-only movement isn't just changing the way people pay, it's changing the way they work. Because of managed treatment's low reimbursement rates on insurance contracts must limit their time with each patient.
Giebel, a typical example, said she would have to double her patient load to make ends meet if she relied on insurance — something she can't imagine. "How can you possibly talk about prevention of cancer and heart disease when you're seeing patients every 12 minutes?" she asked.
family-only patients rave about the quality of attention.
"They take time here with you," said Jesse Rainwater, a 59-year-old church pastor from Bellevue, Wash., who credits Cherewatenko with teaching him to manage his diabetes. "They don't just bring you in and run you out like a bunch of cattle. You feel like you're loved."
The family-only approach evokes Norman Rockwell-tinged visions of being paid with chickens. The simplicity is tempting, but the truth is many people went without preventive health treatment in those "good old days." A $50 charge can be powerful incentive to delay seeing until you're in pain — which can lead to more expensive health problems later.
"Medicine used to be a family-only business, and there were certainly many people who didn't have the cash," said Caplan, the medical ethicist. who insist on also have an ethical obligation to help people who can't afford the fee, he said — even if it means accepting chickens.
crusaders acknowledge the need for some type of insurance. Without it, expensive surgery or hospitalization would force most people into bankruptcy. But they think health insurance should work more like car insurance: you pay for the routine maintenance and little dings yourself, and insurance pays for more expensive repairs.
O'Brien, a freelance marketing specialist, switched from a comprehensive health plan with $300 monthly premiums to a catastrophic plan that costs $75 a month, with a $2,000 deductible. He pays out-of-pocket for routine checkups, and his insurance will kick in if he ever needs expensive treatment.
The promise of a simple payment lured him to Cherewatenko's ga office, but the doctor's personal attention keeps him coming back. The $50 exams are just part of the bargain for O'Brien. Cherewatenko recently met him for coffee to talk about improving his diet — including an admonition to cut back on caffeine.
"How often does go out and have a cup of coffee with you?" O'Brien asked.
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