Why patients are shelling out thousands for 'concierge medicine'

Five years ago, while Paul Cernuto was mountain biking on a Friday afternoon, he suddenly developed a severe headache.

“It was excruciating — I couldn’t even pedal to the car,’’ says Cernuto, who lives in Martinsville, NJ, and owns a landscaping company.

The then-44-year-old dialed his internist, Bruce Aronwald. Although it was the start of a weekend, the doc picked up right away.

“I was able to get hold of him on his personal cellphone. When I explained my symptoms he instructed me to go straight to the emergency room, and there was a team of people waiting for me,” says Cernuto. “They rushed over to the car and rolled me right into the hospital.’’

Within minutes he was getting a CAT scan and discovered he had suffered an aneurysm.

“He saved my life,’’ says Cernuto, who shells out an extra $3,600 annually for him and his wife to receive “concierge’’ medical service from Aronwald.

Most New Yorkers struggle to find doctors they trust who accept their plans, only to spend hours in waiting rooms and then be rushed through their visits. But others, like Cernuto, choose to pay yearly fees to physicians like Aronwald to get preferential treatment, such as 24/7 access, immediate appointments, guaranteed no-waiting-room limbo and more face time with doctors. Many docs will open on weekends, make house calls and coordinate with a patient’s specialists.

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