Concierge Medicine: Exploring Direct Primary Care

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada ranks nearly dead last nationwide — 48 out of 50 — when it comes to the number of doctors per population. But while we have a serious doctor shortage, there are options for care.

They could change your healthcare journey and help you nix the long wait at a provider’s office.

“I’ve had years of that, and I was ready for a change,” said Trina Morella, a Direct Care patient.

The change for her was leaving traditional insurance-based healthcare and moving to Direct Primary Care (DPC).

“I can’t see patients in 10 minutes, that’s not quality care,” said Dr. Ati Hakimi, a Direct Care physician.

She was also frustrated by the system, so she opened her own practice and welcomed patients, like Morella.

Hakimi is a DPC doctor, which some call concierge or retainer-based medicine. It shifts most of the financial responsibility to the patient, in exchange for improving your healthcare experience.

It costs anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 a year. Hakimi even offers house calls.

“It’s quality, it’s affordable, it’s completely transparent,” the doctor explained, “there’s no hidden fees. It’s just that flat fee once a month, and people have all access to me.”

Hakimi negotiates rates directly with drug manufacturers and providers, including imaging, which may be cheaper than using insurance.

“I can order an x-ray tomorrow for $25, a CT scan for about $150, an MRI, $200,” she shared.

This approach may require you to think about health insurance differently.

“So, you don’t use your car insurance to put gas in it to maintain it; you don’t use your homeowner’s insurance and paint your house to make it look nice,” Hakimi compared.

Morella noted, “You can still have your healthcare insurance, and it covers your big items that you need … It has to be the right fit for you, and this was the right fit for me.”

Concierge medicine has both its critics and supporters. While the patient-centered benefits of quicker care access and better relationships are attractive, some people say the model does not promote health equity.

Picture of Dr. Hakimi

Dr. Hakimi

Dr. Ati Hakimi MD graduated from Northwestern University residency in Family Medicine and did an extra year of training in Geriatric Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. She has practiced medicine for over 20 years.

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