It always amazes us here at AgingOptions to run across people who spend countless hours (and hefty fees) to create carefully-crafted financial plans, yet overlook caring for the most important asset of all: themselves. For that reason we were drawn to this very recent article on the website Investopedia. Written by financial planner Robert Dalie, this article shines some helpful light on an approach to medical care that in some ways is a throwback to the past, yet is garnering increasing attention these days: Concierge Medicine.
We agree with this assessment from Dalie’s article. “In the world of investing and finance,” he writes, “most people simply focus on wealth creation and preservation. Yet, what is often overlooked and neglected is our most valuable asset. This is an asset so critical that without it, we are unable to enjoy the fruits of all of our other asset classes combined. The asset is you and your health.” He goes on to explain that merely having health insurance by no means ensures that you’ll get the best care. “We believe that insurance is the instrument that provides us cover in the event of medical problems,” says Dalie. “The reality is that healthcare insurance is a financial hedge against unforeseen medical (financial) loss. Health insurers don’t really care about you, they care about quarterly revenue and profit margins. Insurance is for hospitals, not doctors.”
For some the answer to better, more personalized medical care may lie in the increasingly popular model known as Concierge Medicine. We found this simple definition on an industry website called Concierge Medicine Today. “Concierge Medicine is a form of membership in which doctors provide medical care to patients generally providing 24/7 access, a cell phone number to connect directly with their physician, same-day appointments, [and] visits that last as long as it takes to address their needs and varying other amenities.” The cost for this highly personalized service is a monthly fee paid to the Concierge Doctor which, says the web site, averages between $135 and $150 per month.
The article on the Investopedia website says this model has been gaining momentum for the past two decades and is likely slated to boom with all the uncertainty in the American health care landscape. Concierge Medicine practices, says Dalie, reflect the reality of modern healthcare. Patients who can afford the fee love the fact that they have ready access to their own physician, and that their doctor is taking a far more proactive approach to better care for patients, with services such as an individualized “annual medical report” and highly personalized screening strategies. In Dalie’s words, “Healthcare and the medical profession are on the cusp of a major redesign.”
Advocates point out that what we call Concierge Medicine today was the norm only a generation or two ago. Patients used to know their doctors personally. Doctors made house calls and typically knew everyone in the household by name. Medicine was far less encumbered by vast bureaucracies and layer upon layer of stifling regulations. In our societal quest for better care and safer procedures, we may have lost the personal touch along the way, and – for those who can afford it – Concierge Medicine (and its less costly, less personalized cousin, the Direct Primary Care practice, described here) seems like one possible way to get it back.
Certainly there are many who would argue that Concierge Medicine is only for the wealthy, but its advocates nevertheless embrace its benefits enthusiastically. “If Concierge Medicine is about super servant-hood, then it has nothing to apologize for,” writes Michael Tetreault of Concierge Medicine Today. “People deserve to have access to a physician who spends the time necessary to gather appropriate insight about patients. People deserve transparency. They deserve answers to difficult questions. People deserve accurate information, especially when it concerns their health.” Instead of following the common practice of resorting to fruitless web searches that lead to inaccurate self-diagnosis, clients who use Concierge Medicine get information that’s personalized and professionally sound. Concierge Medicine, writes Tetreault, “has redefined healthcare delivery.”
At AgingOptions we have long advocated that our senior clients adopt an approach that’s similar in some ways to Concierge Medicine by hiring a geriatric care manager, or geriatrician. These medical professionals are trained in the particular health care needs of seniors, and in the same manner as a “medical concierge” they’ll act as your personalized advocate and adviser as you navigate the health care maze. If you’ll contact us at AgingOptions, we can suggest the names of some geriatricians in your area. Having one of these experts as your health care “quarterback” is one of the most important decisions you can make.
Another closely-related decision you need to make is to get a handle on your retirement planning, something that goes far beyond maintaining your health. Planning for your medical needs is an essential component of a strong retirement plan, but it’s certainly not the only thing you need to plan for. A comprehensive retirement plan, the kind we at AgingOptions call a LifePlan, weaves five key elements of your future together: your medical protection, your legal preparation, your financial plan, your housing options, and even a communication plan for your family. When all these five fit together into a seamless whole, your future is secure. You can protect your assets in retirement, avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, and escape the trap of unplanned institutional care.
If you’re ready to learn more, we have an invitation for you. Plan now to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar, where in just a few hours you’ll gain powerful insight into planning for the retirement you’ve always dreamed of. For dates, times and online registration, click here. You can also call us during the week and we’ll gladly sign you up for the seminar of your choice. It will be a pleasure to talk with you soon at an upcoming AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar.
(originally reported at www.investopedia.com)