A controversial medical practice is becoming more and more popular.
Concierge medicine is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee, and in turn they get enhanced care. This has many people worried that this will create a two-tiered health system, where the wealthy get the best care.
East Texas' only retainer doctor, Dr. Sharlet Slough, said that's not how her practice works.
"This is just another option," Dr. Slough said.
Sharlet Slough is the owner and physician at Slough Medical Clinic, a medical retainer practice.
"What we do is provide another option for people in the community to receive primary care. We want to be affordable and accessible and just really be able to take care of our patients 24 hours a day," Dr. Slough said.
It's controversial because doctors can charge a high amount for their extra care. Dr. Slough says there are doctors who do that.
"There are some practices, and they're usually based in major cities, and they're asking for just exorbitant amounts of money to do above and beyond type of things for their patients. But that's not what I do," Dr. Slough said.
She says retainer doctors are not all like that.
"That is one of the misnomers. That doctors that are doing this are getting rich. Yes, if you are the doctor that is charging $25,000 for the doctor to fly to Europe and provide care while your on vacation. But not if you are trying to provide affordable care for those that can't afford insurance," Dr. Slough said.
Dr. Slough says her main goal is to be available and affordable.
"Mine is a monthly fee. Parents $150 a month and kids $42 a month," Dr. Slough said.
"I found in a traditional practice I didn't have near the time. I could maybe spend five to fifteen minutes but in this practice it's normal for me to spend an hour with a patient," Dr. Slough said.
As the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, bringing more formerly uninsured people into the health care system, exacerbating an existing physician shortage, Dr. Slough said she believes more people will turn to this type of care.
"That's what it boils down to. We want that doctor-patient relationship. I think that's why we're seeing this trend," Dr. Slough said.
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