Is concierge medicine right for you?

With all the concerns and frustrations regarding U.S. health care lately, the debate regarding concierge medicine is heating up.

Otherwise known as “direct primary care,” concierge medicine means hiring a private doctor on retainer (for a monthly or yearly fee) and, in return, having him or her at your beck and call. In theory, these physicians offer more access, same-day office visits, longer appointments and “extras” like classes and workshops… all because they have fewer patients to juggle. Concierge doctors offer additional tests, not ordinarily included in a typical annual work-up, including tests for diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.

According to the American Academy of Private Physicians, the number of U.S. doctors offering the service is approximately 6,500. That’s up from about 150 docs ten years ago and is expected to grow by 25 percent per year into the future. Clearly, the concept is trending up.

But, is it right for you?

That depends on a number of factors including the number of times you typically visit the doctor per year, your medical history (pre-existing conditions, etc.), the type of relationship you want to have with your doctor and whether you want to bid your current doctor goodbye.

You should also consider that your retainer (between $1200 and $1500 per year, on average) will not pay for medication, the majority of treatments and hospitalization costs. In other words, it’s not cheap.

If you want that special attention with an emphasis on prophylactic care that may keep you out of the hospital – not to mention a doctor that’s just a text or cell phone call away – concierge medicine may be for you. But, if you’re a person who makes only one trip to the doctor per year, you might opt for the status quo.

So, how in the heck can you figure out what to do? Start by taking the Fit-to-Retire readiness assessment and find out how prepared and enthusiastic you are in the five areas of retirement success: Self Identity, Social, Personal Relationships. Financial AND Health & Nutrition. Then, ask your certified Fit-To-Retire coach to help you decide whether this kind of personalized on-demand healthcare is the way for you to go.

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