Concierge care, which offers personalized medical services for people who can afford it, has grown fast in the pandemic as patients seek direct access to physicians.
Basic telemedicine can bring with it cumbersome insurance protocols and hard-to-navigate health care portals. Concierge care, which is typically not covered by insurance, gets around restrictions placed on doctors and other health care providers. But it comes at a steep cost: Prices for services can be two to three times higher, and that comes on top of annual fees.
When more than 173,000 people in the United States have died from the coronavirus and millions of Americans remain out of work, the growing interest in concierge medical services may seem out of touch with the devastation the pandemic has inflicted.
But the concept is expanding in other areas. The affluent are able to pay a premium for a luxury pursuit that was relatively affordable before the coronavirus crisis, like pampering themselves with a private manicure or hiring a personal trainer for a home workout.
Doctors say they have had to expand their services or create new ones to meet the expectations of their wealthy patients.
“I’ve fixed people’s backs remotely,” said Kimberly Caspare, a physical therapist who is working with the National Basketball Association at Walt Disney World in Florida. She has made time for her patients back home in New York, guiding them through one-on-one virtual sessions to provide relief to their aching joints with techniques usually rendered by her well-trained hands.
Some of her patients were eager for in-person appointments again, but she said that her practice was going to evolve.
“We’ll never go back to just in-office,” she said. “We’re going to be more powerful in how we take care of others.”