Frequently Asked Questions about the Consortium
Why does the Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches have a membership program?
Dr. Fenster saw his way of practicing medicine – a solo, independent practitioner, who is available to his patients – becoming obsolete. Medical practices are changing at an alarming rate, joining together to make mega-practices, selling themselves to hospitals, allowing so-called “physician extenders” such as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to see the bulk of their day-to-day patients and return phone calls, and possibly not going to the hospital themselves at all anymore but allowing hospital-employed physicians (“hospitalists”) see their patients. Patients are getting lost in the healthcare system. In order for Dr. Fenster to remain viable in a solo practice, where he personally sees all of his patients in the office and hospital every day* and continues to provide the array of services his patients have come to enjoy, he realized he needed to establish this membership program, as many cardiologists around the country are doing today. This way, Dr. Fenster can assure a live person continues to answer the phone during office hours to respond to your needs, and you have virtually immediate, direct access to him after hours*. It also means he will be your cardiologist and total healthcare advocate in the hospital and out, and you can call him with questions if you are admitted to the hospital for a non-cardiology reason*. Please feel free to call our new phone line dedicated to the Consortium at (561)296-5403.
What do I get for my membership fee?
First and foremost, you are able to retain Dr. Fenster, and only Dr. Fenster, as your general and invasive cardiologist*. But you also get additional services: A subsidy for a full nutrition consultation, a social worker as needed, pharmacy consultations as needed, physical therapy as needed, and periodic lectures during the year. The Palm Beach Heartstrong Program, through the Consortium, offers free, weekly Tai Chi and volunteer opportunities at the Boys & Girls Club in Riviera Beach.
Will this change or affect my Medicare?
No. Actually, this program is completely separate from Medicare charges. We will continue to bill Medicare, secondary, and supplementary insurances as usual for medical services, and you will continue to be responsible for co-pays and deductibles. The membership fee for the Consortium is also not covered by Medicare, secondary, or supplementary insurances, and cannot be paid for by deductibles or HSAs, as the membership fee covers services outside their auspices.
If I do not need to see Dr. Fenster now, may I choose to enroll at a later date?
You may, but the annual fee cannot be pro-rated. The only exception is when an entirely new patient joins the practice (those who have never been seen by Dr. Fenster in the office before), who may pro-rate only the first year and then participate as all members do on an annual basis. Patients who have been to the office before but left and returned must pay a full year membership fee upon their return.
How will I know when to re-enroll?
Every November, you will receive a new membership invoice, due by December 1 of that current year to take effect January 1 of the following year.
If I choose not to enroll in the Consortium, can I still see Dr. Fenster?
Unfortunately, no. All patients of the Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches, PA, must be enrolled in the Consortium. This way, Dr. Fenster and his staff can ensure continuity of care for everyone. There are some practices with membership programs who offer tiered memberships, and members may receive more or fewer benefits based upon the tier chosen. Dr. Fenster believes all of his patients should receive the same, outstanding level of care.
What if I’m in the hospital but I haven’t enrolled in the Consortium yet?
One of a couple of things could happen. If you are an established patient and have chosen not to participate in the Consortium, you will be given a list of alternate cardiologists to choose from and may ask the hospital to contact your choice of cardiologist. You may change your mind, though, and join the Consortium from the hospital. Unfortunately, annual fees may not be prorated. If you have never been seen at the Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches and would like to be seen by Dr. Fenster at the hospital, you may. New patients are given a one-month introductory period, during which they are encouraged to consider whether the Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches will be their caregiver of choice. After the one-month introductory period, new patients are given the option of enrolling in the Consortium.
What if I only see Dr. Fenster once a year?
Some practices with memberships offer tiered pricing, just for this purpose, but Dr. Fenster feels all patients should be treated the same and receive the same services. And even though seeing a doctor once each year seems little, having someone you trust “in your back pocket” as we like to say is why you probably see him in the first place. We don’t like to think about having an emergency, but Dr. Fenster is your quarterback if you ever have an emergency. If you find yourself in the emergency room – even in another city, even if you don’t have a problem with your heart – you can call Dr. Fenster to help you navigate the system and your diagnosis. This is peace of mind at its most basic. You also have access to all of the ancillary programs offered by the Consortium as part of your membership.
At which hospitals does Dr. Fenster have privileges?
In order to serve the northern Palm Beaches as well as possible and not to spread himself too thin, Dr. Fenster has chosen only to see patients at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and Jupiter Medical Center. He performs invasive procedures at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.
*Dr. Fenster may not be available during vacations and weekends when he is not on call.