KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New TV Drama Based On The Real Life Of Concierge Docs

USA Today reports that USA Network's medical drama, Royal Pains, the story of a doctor who makes house calls in the Hamptons, isn't far from the truth. "Meet Ronald Primas, a middle-aged concierge doctor in Manhattan, where the rich and famous dwell and where parking is usually impossible unless you happen to be a 'doctor on call' with the official dashboard sign and license plates to prove it." Primas carries a doctor's bag and a portable EKG machine around Manhattan in his luxury Range Rover, visiting patients "who have figured out that you really can get anything delivered to your door in New York. As long as you're willing to pay - as little as $200 a house call or more than $600 for routine primary care."

"What he has built is a practice specializing in travel medicine (he makes house calls to luxury hotels to tend to ailing tourists) and the health care of wealthy people and celebrities in Manhattan. ... There are an estimated 5,000 concierge, or 'boutique,' doctors in the country, depending on how you define the term."

Concierge doctors have also garnered attention due to "the ongoing debate over the nation's insurance-based health care system, which concierge doctors have escaped. They provide routine primary care only, don't take insurance, and can charge from as little as $1,500 a year to as much as $25,000 or more charged by elite practices catering to the wealthy. This is on top of the catastrophic health insurance the patient buys to cover serious illness. If a patient has a serious illness, his concierge doctor refers him to specialists and coordinates his care" (Puente, 8/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.