Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008 - No Concierge Medicine for Me

This evening I pick up the phone to listen to our voice mail. Waiting for me is a message from Dr. Cheli. He’s calling to tell us he’s decided not to move forward with the new affiliation with MD-VIP, because he’s been hearing that it would create “too much of a hardship” for his patients. So, he tells us, it will be “business as usual” in his office. He assures us he’ll continue to practice medicine with an emphasis on prevention. (Scroll down to the May 15th entry, for more on this story.)

Reading between the lines, it seems likely that he and the MD-VIP marketing people failed to convince 600 of his 2,700 patients to make the switch (and to pay $1,500 per year for the MD-VIP physical and other services).

That’s not surprising, given the sluggish state of the economy. With gas prices rising faster than anyone can remember, folks are being extra cautious about all their expenditures.

While I feel sorry for what must surely be a huge disappointment for Dr. Cheli, I’m glad for our sake. Claire and I hadn’t told him yet, but we’d pretty much decided to go ahead and take a risk on MD-VIP (despite the severe strain it would have put on our budget). We made that decision reluctantly – not because we were overflowing with enthusiasm about MD-VIP’s services, but because we didn’t want to leave Dr. Cheli.

This means we can continue to see him, without the worry of coming up with that huge fee every year.

I don’t fault Dr. Cheli for trying. The health-care funding situation in this country is an abominable mess. I can fully understand why he’d want to carve out a little island of calm amidst the chaos, where he could practice the sort of medicine he trained for, and make a good living doing so.

It’s going to be stormy sailing for him and everyone else connected with health care – until our political leaders come up with the will to stand up to big insurance and big pharma, and develop a national health-insurance program, like most every other industrialized nation already has.


Anonymous said...

Your comments are well taken as I just called to make appointment for my annual physical(to get my drug prescription)and was told my doctor is no longer taking Medicare patients and is not continuing to service his patients that don't have gastrointestinal problems. He has been my "internist" for many years and now I must find another "gate keeper" doctor. Very upsetting to have to change. He said he would see me one more time for "free" to do the exam and "explain it to me" I guess change is all we can be sure of!


Julie Orvis Marcinkiewicz said...

I've got to say that this is the best outcome. When I first saw your post on this, I thought, how can this doctor just give up on 2,100 patients? That's 77% of his practice! I see the financial self-interest and the personal satisfaction of seeing fewer patients in a deeper way but, geeze,that seemed like a radical surgery that would cut off a lot of people. To me , the concierge-medicine type of health care scheme, only exaserbates the health care finance crisis in this country. Between the lines, I wonder if got a real lashback from people-a verbal protest from patients, or it was the slow uptake--people wondering if they should dig in, like you and Claire, but did it too slowly to make the scheme work.

Well, good for you that you can keep your good relationship and not pay the deluxe price for it.

Carl said...


This is insidious. I'm sorry you have to be going through this.

I could understand if the doctor has decided to become a gastorenterological specialist, but if so, that wouldn't make sense that he'd be dumping his Medicare patients.

It's a crazy health-care world out there.

Carl said...


We're hoping that we as a country can move to some kind of universal healthcare in the next few years, that will truly benefit everyone, including the doctors.

Anonymous said...

...not THIS part of the country.