You've probably experienced the frustration of waiting for weeks or even months to see a physician, only to find yourself languishing in a waiting room for hours. On average, according to a recent survey of physicians, Americans wait about 24 days to see a new doctor, a 30 percent increase since 2014. And once they get there, would-be patients can expect to cool their heels for an average of about 18 minutes.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the number of Americans signing up for personalized medical services, often known as either concierge or direct primary care (DPC), is surging. These types of practices, where you pay a monthly or annual fee in exchange for direct physician access, have average costs ranging from $77 to $183 a month, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Some practices still bill your insurance on top of the monthly fee, while others eschew insurance entirely (and as a result often charge on the high side).
Among the perks you'll receive: same-day appointments, longer exam times, home delivery of medications, and round-the-clock telephone and email access to your doctor. Doctors are increasingly signing onto these practices — DPCs grew by over 8 percent each year from 2015 to 2017. In fact, some in the medical field worry that such practices may siphon off the best doctors, leaving patients who can't afford concierge care with lesser care.