Financial advisors should be looking for ways to provide a higher level of value-added services to strengthen their bond with their clients. One of the best ways for financial advisors to help their clients is to coach and advise them with regards to their clients health care.
Concierge medical care presents a viable solution. Sometimes referred to as direct-pay, direct primary care (DPC) or private physician practice, concierge medicine has grown markedly in recent years as a way for doctors to regain a measure of control over their practices and especially over the predictability of their billings.
The main principle linking all these types of private-delivery medical services is that they bypass insurance. The patient pays the doctor directly, usually in the form of a monthly or annual retainer. In return, the patient receives the level of access guaranteed by the particular plan.
The big advantage that patients note when they switch to some form of concierge care is that their doctor has more time to prescribe a more all-encompassing course of treatment that goes beyond writing a quick prescription and making an appointment for a follow-up visit.
DPC practices typically offer most of the same types of diagnosis and care as standard, fee-for-service physicians, but they stress their ability to save patients time (due to shorter waits made possible by the lower patient load) and expense (due to more time spent with the patient and the resulting reduction in unnecessary diagnostic tests and missed or incomplete diagnoses).
80% of subscription fees to DPC practices paid by patients are between $51 and $99 per month. By contrast, the typical individual health insurance policy can cost anywhere from $150 to $700 per month, depending on the insured’s age and desired level of coverage.
A 2017 sampling of concierge clinics and traditional providers found that a mammogram in a traditional setting could cost $350 while in a concierge clinic the same mammogram can be $80. A brain MRI could cost around $600 from a traditional provider, but only about $380 through a concierge clinic.
But, what is it that truly makes the difference between a traditional primary care setting and a concierge setting? Spending quality time with a qualified physician in an unhurried environment. The doctor has a luxury of time (and the absence of pressure from an insurer) to think “outside the box” in ways that are most beneficial to the patient.
So, what does this have to do with financial planning practices? Simply this: if financial advisors are serious about building better relationship with their clients, why wouldn’t they want to help their clients solve one of the problems they worry about the most? Their health. If financial advisors want to remain relevant, they need to position themselves as a toolbox for the various challenges their clients face, whether that be changing transportation needs, managing lifestyle transitions, or, in this case, finding a better tool for managing the quality and cost of health care.
Providing a referral to a concierge or DPC practice will not result in a fee or commission, but it can certainly result in clients’ perception as valuable problem solvers and as professionals who consider their clients as whole individuals, not just their asset balances.
Financial advisors should do themselves a favor and develop a referral relationship with one or more concierge physicians in the local area. It may be the most important thing you can do for your client — and your relationship.