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Doctors Serve Wealthy for a Price - MDVIP Corporation - Your Opinion?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Morgus, Aug 28, 2001.

  1. Morgus

    Morgus Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2001
    From Dr. Morgus. . .

    I am curious to get your responses to this article. In my opinion, this is a completely expected and reasonable reaction to the inferior and impersonal care given by HMO's, insurance companies, and cattle herd medicine that engulfs us today. Market forces will always force some balance to the mix.

    I am so tired of "mangled care" :eek: that I'm thinking of going in this direction.

    What do you think? And please be candid!

    Whether we agree or disagree, let's be intellectuals, not savages.

    My Best As Always,
    Doctor Morgus :cool:

    Doctors Serve Wealthy for a Price - MDVIP Corporation

    Culture/Society Front Page News
    Source: Yahoo
    Published: Saturday August 25 12:49 PM ET Author: By ALLISON LINN, AP Business Writer

    SEATTLE (AP) - If David Heerensperger isn't feeling well, he calls Dr. Howard Maron on the physician's personal cell phone, whether it's 3 a.m. on a weekday or noon on a weekend.

    And Maron will happily make a house call to the 65-year-old executive or send a nurse to his patient's office for tests. And he'll guarantee same-day results.

    The catch? Maron and his partner, Dr. I. Scott Hall, charge patients up to $20,000 a year in cash for primary care.

    Maron compares his Seattle practice to private golf courses or expensive restaurants.

    It's a growing trend. Five years after opening his practice MD2 (pronounced MD-squared) in Seattle, Maron is planning to open as many as 100 franchises across the country. An increasing number of doctors nationwide are beginning to charge anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000 to let richer patients opt out of traditional health-care headaches.

    Patients say they are spared the frustration of long waits for appointments, rushed, impersonal treatment and delayed lab results.

    With traditional health care, Heerensperger says, ``the prices are going up so much and the service is so bad, that this is just great.''

    ``I'm fortunate to be able to pay for it,'' said Heerensperger, who runs a chain of lighting stores.

    Doctors say it gives them more free time, and lets them spend more time with patients without budget-conscious insurance companies looking over their shoulders.

    Maron said he got the idea while traveling as the team doctor for the Seattle SuperSonics. He noticed the athletes got VIP care while the rich team owners struggled with the frustrations of traditional health care.

    ``I thought, `Isn't it ironic that a player can get a response like that, while the wealthy and the powerful have to sit in ER waiting rooms as if they are a nobody - or an everybody?''' Maron says.

    Other medical professionals sympathize with the frustrations of the current health-care system. Lowered insurance reimbursements mean that many doctors' salaries are decreasing as their patient loads are increasing.

    But they question whether most physicians would be comfortable practicing ``concierge care.''

    ``I don't think they're unethical, but I don't think they take into account the overall needs of the community,'' said Frank Riddick, a New Orleans physician and chairman of the American Medical Association's council on ethical and judicial affairs.

    Critics, including patients dropped by doctors who switched to the new system, complain that such services hurt those who can't afford it. In Florida, some politicians have called for an end to such practices.

    Duane Dobrowits, the CEO of MD2, is a former patient of Maron's who couldn't afford to switch to the $20,000-a-year model. He asks of critics, ``Are you angry because doctors are doing this or are you angry because you can't have this?''

    Maron says he's never run a charitable practice.

    ``None of these doctors is Mother Theresa,'' he said. ``We're not saints. We're just practicing medicine.''

    At his peak, Maron says he was seeing 20 to 30 patients a day from a roster of 4,000. Now he has fewer than 100 patients and he may see one or two a day. In addition, his salary has increased considerably.

    ``It's allowed me to focus on being a doctor again,'' says Robert Colton, who left his private practice in Boca Raton, Fla., last year to start MDVIP, which charges $1,500 a year above regular insurance and per-visit fees to keep his patient load down to 600.

    ``I can spend more time with patients,'' Colton said. ``I can see them whenever they're ill.''

    MD2 has only primary care physicians, whom patients can see an unlimited number of times after paying their annual fee. Specialists must be paid by the client's personal insurance, but Maron said they often give MD2 clients preferential treatment.

    ``It's a point of pride because our patients are a lot of the movers and shakers in the city,'' said Maron, who accompanies his patients when they visit specialists.

    William Dowling, chairman of the department of health services at the University of Washington's School of Public Health, says such practices are a natural product of the U.S. health-care system.

    ``Some people can afford to pay more to get prompt service, and so the marketplace will respond by some physicians providing that service,'' Dowling said.

    Said Colton, who is looking at opening other MDVIP branches across the country: ``That's what's great about America, that you have choice, that you don't have socialized medicine here.''

    Riddick says very few people can afford to pay for such services, and there will always be new doctors willing to take on patients dropped by physicians switching to pricey practices.

    Meanwhile, MD2, which opened a second office in Bellevue, is considering doctors in Portland, Ore., Chicago and Denver. Dobrowits says he's convinced the model will thrive, even despite the weakened economy.

    ``We don't need tons of millionaires,'' he quips. ``We just need enough millionaires to run our business.''

    MDVIP Corporation
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  3. i don't think it is for me, but i don't think the HMO's are either. i think it is a great idea for the physician/businessman. nothing wrong with the good old profit motive.

    i saw something a little different on TV, about a coul=ple of docs doing GP on a cash only basis, something like $2 a minute, no office staff. that sounds more like me. besides, if you can bill $2 a minute 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year, you will put $240,000 in your pocket pre expense pre tax. not too shabby, and you are still within reach of the not so rich! and that figure does not include office procedures or lab work. i think the ideal thing for me will be something like this coupled with some charity time, at least 1 day a month, and maybe a working vacation in a part of the world that needs a doctor.
  4. Morgus

    Morgus Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2001
    Space Monkey, you are right on target. I posted this article because I've been exploding to discuss this issue with other docs and students. It seems to be frowned upon in institutions to have such conversations in public. I know--I've been asked to shut up too many times.

    A recent Frontline PBS documentary made the point that only 61% of total health care costs go to doctors, hospitals, drugs, etc.--in other words, only 61% goes to actually caring for and treating the patient. :(

    The other 39% goes to the HMO's and insurance companies administrations, overheads, profits, etc. :mad:

    It seems to me that doctors and patients could split this 39% by cutting out the middlemen--we'd each be 19.5% better off, and 100% happier. :D

    Neil had a good intermediate position on this. Having a spectrum of options to get away from "mangled care" is what we want and need.

    Dr. Morgus :cool:
  5. fiatslug

    fiatslug Senior Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    May 8, 2000
    I know of a different take on this--a family practice doc in Marin (hardly an underserved community), fed up with HMOs, 6 minute office visits, et al, sent a letter to all his patients. He said he could no longer afford to practice within the HMO model--he told them to keep their insurance for emergencies (and, one assumes, for any tests & procedures), and for something like $20 a month, they could have unlimited email access to him, with the promise that he would get right back to them, and office visits as needed. He's able to screen out a lot of the questions his patients have via email (rather than piling into his office), see patients who are truly ill, and apparently, he's making twice what he used to make. I don't know how this all works out--whether all his money comes from the $20 a month, or whether that's on top of whatever he's paid by the HMOs--but it's an interesting idea.

    Of course, the problem with this kind of care is its total exclusion of the poor. Perhaps such a scheme would free up enough of the doctor's time to do a little gratis care on the side...
  6. platinumdoc

    platinumdoc Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2001
    This concept is great for outpatient practice for a patient with an uncomplicated medical history. However, it may be limited if someone may need a lot of specialist care also. This article also does not address INPATIENT type of care. Does a patient pay two premiums? How do they factor in the cost of ICU stays, surgeries, etc ?

    For an office based practice it does return to the cherished patient-physician relationship without having to deal with hurrying through busloads of people throughout the day. It focuses on QUALITY not QUANTITY. In the OUTPATIENT management, this sounds like a great model. You get what you pay for....
  7. Flea

    Flea Member 7+ Year Member

    May 20, 2001
    PD :D
    People c "lots-o-lots-o-money" pay cash for these services ;)...

    This was acutally what I was thinking about doing if I decided not to go the hospitalist route (or get tired of that job).. I guess I was not the first to think of it !

    I would MUCH rather do that and volunteer in a FREE clinic on the side.....but maybe that wouldn't be fair to the rich people...just kidding (not about the volunteering) :D
  8. platinumdoc

    platinumdoc Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2001
    We can set up health resorts/golf courses with adjoining Platinum Club Clinics. It could be a comprehensive center with nutritionists, personal trainers, physical therapists, pharmacists, therapeutic massage, etc. We can get funding from corporate sponsors and cater to professional sports teams, first...


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