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Concierge Medicine is [Not] Only for the Rich
Tommy McElroy, MD
CONCIERGE MEDICINE HAS A REPUTATION AS BEING ELITIST AND ONLY FOR THE RICH. I’m here to tell to tell you that isn’t true. In fact, of all of my patients only two own an airplane, and they are married. Now, are there practices that cater to the rich with their membership fee and elite services? Sure, think of good ole Dr. Conrad Murray and his magic insomnia elixir. I’m sure the late great King of Pop paid him much more than what my membership fee is, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

CONCIERGE MEDICINE IS FOR THE BUSINESS OWNER. In my practice a majority of members own their own business. In fact, I would say it’s a super majority. If we included business executives in that group, the numbers would most likely reach the 80% mark. What does that say? I don’t know for sure. I think business people are drawn to the idea of a practice that is based on value. Nobody is forced to come to my practice. I’m not in anyone’s insurance ‘network’ yet here I have people paying me directly for medical care. My guess is they know I appreciate their time as much as my own. As a business owner, I understand nobody wants to wait in a waiting room and some can’t afford to wait. It’s a matter of time is money.

CONCIERGE MEDICINE IS FOR THE ‘WORRIED WELL.’ This is by no means a derogatory term. I use this term to include those patients of mine who are in my practice precisely because they are well and want to stay that way. It does my heart good when I hear a patient say, ‘I joined because I want to optimize my health.’ To me that’s like seeing your child hook a trophy fish using the trick you have been showing him or her since starting fishing. Sometimes I think its a put-on because I’m always talking about ‘Optimizing Health’ but I’ve heard it so many times now I think, ‘Wow they really understand what I’m trying to do!’

CONCIERGE MEDICINE IS FOR THE YOUNG PERSON. I have the privilege of having many young patients. The idea of a twenty-something joining a concierge medicine practice may seem strange, but increasingly we have ‘kids’ joining (for the record, I call anyone >5 years younger than me a ‘kid’). They join because we can talk on Skype and I can relate to them somewhat still even though I was a freshman at UF when they were in grade school. A lot of them join because they don’t want to be told what doctor they can go to by their insurance plan. There is something to be said for millennials and their willingness to eschew established dictates. Maybe they will be the ones to right the ship that is the United States as we sail into the next half century.

Concierge medicine is for so many more: the sick and complicated, the family, the uninsured, the one who just ‘likes to talk.’ Whatever it is though, concierge medicine is not just for the rich.

Dr. Tommy McElroy is a concierge medicine physician in Wesley Chapel, Florida. He is the founder of Echelon-Health.

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