By Kelly Ryan

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Doctors who say America’s health insurance system is a nightmare are turning to concierge medicine.

But there is an added cost.

Insurance companies won’t pay for it, but more and more customers are willing to.

“It’s like hitting the motherlode when you get an appointment with Dr. Tepper, he’s very busy,” said patient Janeece Sargis.

Longtime patient Sargis says trying to get into see her doctor can sometimes take a month. But that won’t be the case much longer. Sargis isn’t changing physicians, Dr. Tepper is changing his practice.

“Medicine is about taking care of people,” Dr. Tepper said.

Dr. Tepper is one of an increasing number of doctors moving into concierge medicine.

“medicine happens when we’re face to face,” Dr. Tepper said.

A concierge doctor takes fewer patients, and those patients get more personalized care, same-day appointments and the doctor’s personal cell phone.

“I’ll be able to do more house calls, patients will have more access,” Dr. Tepper said.

Access he says is limited by time spent filling out insurance forms.

“There’s a study that Hopkins did that looked at it that said the average primary care is spending 28 pecent of their time with patients,” Dr. Tepper said.

That’s 72 percent of a doctors time spent on paperwork

“It’s kind of sad to think that all of that education and experience is going to fill out reports and forms,” Dr. Tepper said.

Insurance companies won’t pay for concierge doctors, and patients still need a health insurance plan for surgeries and other medical needs. Some call it medicine for the rich.

“I didn’t go into medicine just to be a physician for wealthy people,” Dr. Tepper said.

Dr. Tepper will give discounts, and some of his longtime patients who he knows can’t afford it will not be charged.

Specialdocs Consultants, a company that helps doctors transition to concierge medicine, says fees range from $1,500 a year to $5,000, with an average cost of around $2,200.

Dr. Tepper says his patients deserve more of his time than his laptop does.

“The computer is not sick, if I wanted to treat computers, I would have gotten a degree in computer science.”


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