Check out this article on the trend of having a primary care physician on retainer published in the current issue of Sacramento-based Comstock’s Magazine. For people who need to consult a doctor frequently when they need to (such as parents of young children, those with complex, chronic conditions, and individuals making a major health-related lifestyle change), combining this arrangement with a high deductible insurance plan could be a better value than an all-inclusive plan that factors frequent doctor visits into premium rates. Such as, for example, individual health plans rated “gold” or “platinum” that have lower cost sharing for frequent users of medical services but come with the tradeoff of higher premiums.
There is a concerning aspect to the trend as author Jeff Wilser points out in his piece. Primary care physicians who work on a retainer basis manage to get more time to devote to patients (great for those types of aforementioned patients who need more time and attention) by substantially reducing the size of their patient panels. That’s counter to the projected growth in demand for primary care doctors due to insurance market reforms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — at the same time there are fewer primary care docs providing services due to economic incentives to specialize and growing retirements.
Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email