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Concierge medicine offers hands-on care at a price

The Tennessean, July 18, 2011

A handful of doctors in Middle Tennessee are practicing medicine in a way that they say removes the pressure of needing to see a ton of patients every day to break even financially. Nationwide, roughly 3,500 doctors practice concierge medicine, according to industry trade group the American Academy of Private Physicians. Proponents expect even more doctors to join these ranks amid lingering uncertainties related to healthcare reform -- including reimbursement cuts and expectations that physicians might have to work faster for less money as more than 30 million Americans are added to insurance rolls. Not everyone sees concierge medicine as a good thing. Critics point to what they see as ethical issues as physicians make the switch, including possible disruptions in the continuity of care -- especially for patients who simply can't afford to pay the extra fee to stay with their doctor.