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iVillage.com: The Biggest Health Trends of 2013

Instead of Health Insurance, Paying Your Doctor an Annual Fee

As more and more consumers become fed up with insurance companies’ co-pays, deductibles and having to choose ‘in-network’ providers, 2013 will see big growth in the field of concierge medicine. Boutique, or concierge, medicine (also known as retainer based or direct care) offers patients the opportunity to pay an annual fee or retainer directly to their doctor, instead of relying only insurance for coverage.

“The new affordability of concierge medicine is driving the middle class to it in droves,” says Matt Jacobson, CEO of SignatureMD, a concierge medicine provider. “Over the last five years, it's increased 500 percent and the trend promises to accelerate because of a looming doctor shortage, a graying population that will need more health care, and the advent of Obamacare, in which 30 million previously uninsured Americans will enter the health care system,” Jacobson explains. Some of the advantages of concierge medicine include lower overall health care costs and more personalized and preventative care. The downside is these services are not typically covered by insurance and retainer fees may not cover the costs of testing, medications or other services provided by your doctor. You may not want to get rid of your policy entirely in the event of emergency care and hospital visits. Even so, Jacobson notes that a typical family of four can actually save money using a concierge physician by opting for a higher deductible with their existing insurance plan and using the savings to pay the retainer.

(CREDIT: PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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