For 27 years, Warren Steinberg‘s waiting room was always filled.
The Westport internist had a thriving practice. He saw 30 patients a day — there were 2500 in all — and they loved him.
Soon, things will slow down. He’ll have only 600 patients. But instead of 15-minute appointments, they’ll enjoy a leisurely 30. They’ll have his cell number and email address, for direct 24/7 access.
Plus a “free” physical and lab tests, and coverage for a few more incidentals.
The fee for this more personal touch — called “concierge medicine” — is $2,000 a year.
Dr. Steinberg’s 1900 patients unwilling — or unable — to pay the $2,000 up-front fee will have a new physician. Dr. Steinberg is working to get at least 1 new person into his office. He will transition slowly to the new model, and will not leave any current patient without a doctor.
It was not an easy decision, says Wayne Lipton. He’s the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians (CCP), a private Long Island-based company that offers marketing, accounting and design services to concierge doctors. Dr. Steinberg joins CCP’s 180 doctors, in 18 states.
Lipton has known Dr. Steinberg since the 1990s. “I always thought he’d be a good candidate for this,” Lipton says. “He’s warm and genuine. He knows his patients on a real, personal level.
“But as he was getting older — as everyone does — he realized he couldn’t continue to see so many patients a day. Medicine has become a revolving door. With rising costs, doctors have to see more patients just to maintain revenue. That means they have less time with each of them.”
Steinberg’s decision was not easy. “I believe it took Warren at least 4 years to do this,” Lipton says. “Change is not easy. Warren’s commitment to adding a doctor, or doctors, to his practice shows how important his patients are to him.”
Steinberg is not the first concierge physician in Westport. Six of the 7 members of Internal Medicine Associates are affiliated with Lipton’s CCP — though in a hybrid model. A small number of their patients pay for concierge medicine; the rest are part of the doctors’ traditional practice.
One consolation for anyone lamenting the move to concierge service: The $2,000 fee may be tax-deductible. (Lipton advises patients to check with their tax advisors.)
Also worth noting: The $2,000 fee is nowhere near the top of the scale. Lipton says at least one Fairfield County concierge physician charges $10,000 a year.
He is not, Lipton quickly adds, a CCP doctor.