For well-to-do, health care has become a catered affair

Nurses Activism


Just wanted to get some opinions on "Concierge Docs":

For well-to-do, health care has become a catered affair


Allison Linn

Associated Press


- 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.

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.

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. 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."


160 Posts

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

Well atleast they did not lie about the motive: money.

The jury is still out for me on the topic.



160 Posts

Here is a website to visit:


6,620 Posts

One of the downsides of capitalism!! I hate the rich folks who come into the hospital and expect us to take over the role of their maid/butler. I am glad I live in a more rural area without too many of these people!.:rolleyes:


100 Posts

If I could afford to employ one of these doctors I would! No scheduling conflicts, no waiting in the office for your appointment that was supposed to have been 3 hours ago. I do not think that politicians should try and regulate what these docs can and cannot do just because everybody cannot afford the service that is being provided. If you have a service to provide, and someone is willing to pay whatever you want, then go for it! If I was a doc, I cannot think of a better practice, and if I had the cash I would have my own doc!


349 Posts

Originally posted by JJFROG

[bIf you have a service to provide, and someone is willing to pay whatever you want, then go for it! [/b]

Darn right!! One of the 'upsides' of capitalism...

Eliminating this just because not everybody can afford it is like eliminating valet parking or paid professional assistants, etc., etc.. You may not like the fact that you can't afford it, but that doesn't justify eliminating a service that other people want and are willing to pay for. I don't like the fact that I have to clean my own house, but don't want all maid services eliminated just because I can't afford to use them. That's just ridiculous.

Barbara Rose

71 Posts

They employ nurses, so where do I apply? come on, if the money is good, we as nurses are also missing a golden opportunity, and the "shift" work would probably be well balanced with the "perks" of the job, don't you think?

hcmanp, NP

83 Posts

Specializes in private practice, corporate.

So, here's my question: having paid anywhere from $1000 to $1500 bucks for this care, would you be interested in seeing the NP, or insist on the doc?

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health.

My sister is an internist. She was offered a position in a "boutique" practice similar to this, but ultimately declined it since she did not want to relocate.

Interestingly, she stated that the lack of insurance company interference in this type of office would have enabled her to practice medicine in a manner more consistent with her own personal philosophy, and would have enabled her to spend MUCH more time with each individual patient. Furthermore, without the need to hire clerical staff to file insurance claims, the group was able to spend more money on nursing staff, including an NP, and was able to donate a substantial number of hours of "charity" care each month.

This type of practice is filling a need for both affluent and poor patients, and I'm all for it!

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