Clark Howard

Is One Medical Membership for Prime Members Better Than a Health Concierge?

Concierge medicine has become popular in recent years. But often it isn’t cheap.

We’re talking thousands of dollars for on-call, 24/7 access to a medical doctor. In theory, it’s a single doctor who knows you, your medical history, your current medications and so forth.

You’re getting continuity of care and around-the-clock access. However, that’s a sizeable cost for some people. Especially if you’re healthy and don’t need instant care all the time.

But what about Amazon Prime's One Medical? Available to Amazon Prime members, it purports to offer 24/7 on-demand medical care for just $9 a month or $99 a year. Is One Medical a much cheaper version of concierge medicine?

Amazon’s One Medical (For Prime Members) vs. Concierge Medicine: How Do They Compare?

That’s what a Clark Howard listener recently asked.

Asked Joe in Connecticut: "I was looking into concierge health care services and came upon the new Amazon Prime One Medical program. The Amazon program includes clinic access of which two are within a short distance of my residence.

"Amazon's program cost is $99 annually as a Prime member. The cost of the concierge service offered by a local hospital system is approximately $2,500 annually per person. Am I trying to contrast apples and oranges?"

Clark is a great person to ask. He's been public about managing his prostate cancer for many years as well as his 2023 heart surgery. He takes his health very seriously in many respects, including wearing multiple devices to track his sleep, heart rate and more.

He also pays for concierge medical coverage and has tried One Medical from Amazon.

“It’s not the same,” Clark says. “With One Medical, in theory, you should be able to get same-day appointments and that kind of thing. But there’s just too many people in it. And it’s gonna be hard to get that.

“You will be able to get video appointments often same-day. But having that real continuity that you have with an expensive concierge — it’s not equivalent.”

Clark pointed out that with One Medical, you’ll often see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Although not physicians, both roles are considered medical providers and are qualified to see and treat patients.

“With the concierge services, almost always it’s going to be with the medical doctor,” Clark says. “And with a concierge, you will have the doctor’s cell phone number. And in theory you can call them any time of the day, day of the week, whatever. So it is not the same.”

Clark Still Appreciates Amazon’s One Medical

Although One Medical can’t provide the level of personalization, attention and continuity — especially at scale — as a good concierge doctor, Clark still appreciates what Amazon is trying to do with One Medical.

Clark believes Amazon is losing “a lot” of money on One Medical. And he’s unsure if Amazon will be able to continue the program into the future.

“But what they’re trying to do is great for continuity of care. And the fact that they are using technology much more effectively in providing the service than traditional medicine.

“Amazon is doing a better job than others at doing things electronically where the information is available at the fingertips of whoever it is you get an urgent appointment with.”

Final Thoughts

Amazon's One Medical is a good idea in theory. But there have been reports of struggles. And it's unfair to expect the service to approach the quality of care you can get by paying for concierge medicine.

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