'Concierge' Medical Care Unfair?

Imagine this: a doctor who answers his own phone, never keeps you waiting, and even makes house calls.

No, it's not Hollywood.

As The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reported Thursday, it's a reality. But it comes with a hefty price tag.

It's called "concierge," "retainer," or "boutique" medicine.

With "the old days" of "Marcus Welby"-like care long gone, replaced by hurried visits with specialist after specialist, some physicians are putting on the brakes and turning back the clock.

As Senay explains, some doctors, frustrated with the current medical system, are charging an extra fee to give their patients extra, VIP-like attention.

One such doctor, Perry Wyner, who practices in Rockville Centre, N.Y., on Long Island, told Senay, "We want someone to pay attention to us, to care about us, to feel like we have their interests at heart."

Wyner engages in concierge medicine through MDVIP, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based company that provides support services for his practice. His patients pay an extra fee of $1,500 a year over, and above insurance.

"That fee," Wyner says, "allows me to have the time with the patients that I need. Therefore, I can give the patients the time they really deserve."

Wyner used to care for 2,500 patients, but now is down to fewer than 400.

One Wyner patient who made the transition, Nancy Frankel, says the cost doesn't bother her at all: "We sat down and said, 'You know what? People spend hundreds of dollars to go to health clubs. People spend thousands of dollars to go on vacation. Every family has priorities. Our priority is health."

Concierge-style businesses sprang up 10 years ago and are now in at least 15 states, Senay says.

MDVIP, just one of many such companies, says its sales have gone up 1,841 percent in the past three years.

But not everyone thinks that's a good thing.
  • Brian Dakss

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