Private Healthcare Options Explored: A Summary of Altair’s Spring 2024 Client Forum — Health Is Wealth

It is often said that the best investment any of us can make is in our health. So how can wealth be used to open the door to expanded healthcare options that can promote physical and emotional well-being? We sat down with several top healthcare professionals to discuss that topic at Altair’s spring forum on May 1st. Private healthcare options were the focus as our experts reviewed the different types of concierge medicine, executive health programs and private insurance.

Drawing from their observations, here are brief summaries of some of the key points. Quotes are lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Private options all emphasize direct access and more time with doctors.

Private care options are focused on the following:

  • Concierge medicine: A relationship between a patient and a primary care physician that entails an annual fee or retainer. Advantages include same-day appointments, longer exam times, home delivery of medications, and round-the-clock telephone and email access to your doctor. “The biggest thing that people come for is to know that they have access to me or to my partners,” said Dr. Audrey Tatar, who heads the concierge medicine practice (also called personal physician care or direct primary care) at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “They also value having a long-term relationship with their physician.” Growing demand for concierge medicine coupled with a physician shortage means you will likely have to get on a waiting list if interested.
  • Executive health: A form of care for corporate and individual clients centered on comprehensive one-day physicals designed to keep all aspects of health on track. Physicians not only make standard health assessments but also gauge fitness, diet, exercise routine and stress management in order to produce a report of personalized recommendations shared with patients by day’s end. Access to any needed specialists is enabled quickly. “We try to maximize their health, wealth and time,” said Dr. Jeanne Farley, medical director with Northwestern Medicine Executive Health. “Getting everything done in one day is so valuable.”
  • Health advocacy: Health advisory firms that work with wealth advisers, family offices and their clients to help them navigate care and treatment. They take a holistic approach to care, offering connections and individualized advice on physical and mental health as well as insurance, elder care, substance abuse and other issues. “Many of our clients have a wealth adviser, and we are their health adviser to quarterback and steer treatment,” said John Samuels, founder and CEO of Wellworth Advisors. “There are great doctors and great hospitals, but many times people don’t get great care.” His New York-based firm, which operates nationally, focuses on identifying and accessing best-in-class treatment options and other customized services for clients.

The cost is substantial but does not have to be prohibitive.

Concierge medicine fees generally are not covered by insurance and must be paid out of pocket. The cost varies widely by practice, ranging from the mid-four figures annually to well into five figures. It can be a smart investment in your personal health and a comparatively small percentage of total health and medical costs over the long term, according to the speakers. “Obtaining individualized care can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life and your care,” Samuels said.

Be proactive about your health insurance.

Primary-care testing done through your private care provider, such as lab work or MRIs, can still be covered. But having it done in network and getting procedures preauthorized can significantly reduce the cost. Cara Kahan, CEO of 1706 Advisors, a third-generation family business focused on insurance and benefit plans, said consumers should always do their homework on their insurance whether the care is through concierge or an executive program or the traditional primary-care route. “The deal with health insurance in America is you have to be proactive,” she said. Asking questions about costs and what sort of doctor is needed is important in non-emergency situations. “It’s imperative to be a steward of your own health care, although it’s complicated and difficult,” said Alana Cahan, the firm’s president.

Buy international insurance for traveling overseas.

U.S. health insurance does not cover much outside the country if you need care while on an overseas vacation or business trip. The Kahans and Sullivan recommended buying temporary coverage, with policies differing depending on whether the travel is for work or fun. “You need something that if, God forbid, something happens you have some coverage,” Cara Kahan said. “And hopefully you’re buying it also with the ability to get you out of where you are.” The insurers mentioned were IMG Global, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allianz and Medjet.

Taking charge of your care can make a big difference.

All of the experts emphasized the value of a more personal focus on health care. Besides having the right medical care in place, they noted, people should follow through with their own self-care in order to have the best possible chance for a healthy lifespan. Dr. Tatar emphasized the importance of a three-pronged approach to health: 1. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. 2. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Writer Michael Pollan’s famously simple nutrition advice) 3. Stay mentally active and socially engaged.

Need more information?

If there is interest in learning more about different private healthcare options as well as suggestions on which offerings might be a fit for specific needs or situations, please contact Anna Nichols, Head of Client Education.

1706 Advisors is a vendor to Altair Advisers. Altair Advisers has no affiliation with any mentioned guest or company and did not receive compensation for their participation.

The material shown is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as accounting, legal, or tax advice. Although we made efforts to verify the accuracy of the information, Altair Advisers cannot guarantee its accuracy. Please see Altair Advisers’ Form ADV Part 2A and Form CRS at for additional information about Altair Advisers’ business practices and conflicts identified.