February 20, 2019
For those with a chronic illness, it may seem like you need your Medicare or insurance to survive. But the truth is that they’re actually the biggest threat to your health.
The reason behind this is that these third-party payers have completely warped the incentives in the health care system so that doctors don’t have incentives to care about your actual health. That might sound crazy, but think about it.
You go in to see your doctor for a particular issue, and his main objective in the session is to give you multiple prescriptions or send you off to see a specialist. He just needs to tick off the boxes to show that he asked you the required questions and move you along so that you’re someone else’s problem.
Since your insurance company is the real customer here, doctors are more focused on catering to them than to you.
Not only is this rude service, but it’s ruinous to your health.
When not treated holistically, patients’ chronic illnesses often lead to further illnesses or ‘comorbidities’. In fact, studies have found that not only do 83% of Medicare recipients have more than one chronic condition, but that they have an average of 8.7 chronic diseases!
If you have a chronic disease and you want to not just survive, but thrive in this lifetime you should consider switching to Direct Primary Care. It could just save your life.
Why Direct Primary Care is Good For Chronic Illnesses
Direct Primary Care is a movement in healthcare that is fast gaining traction in the US. These are doctors and clinics that have completely opted out of accepting Medicare and insurance. Instead, they only accept direct payments from their customers. In this system, one typically pays a monthly retainer for unlimited access to their direct primary care doctor.
There are a number of benefits to taking insurance companies out of the equation. The first is that it vastly reduces the administrative burdens on doctors and clinics. I recently wrote about the extreme costs of this, as two-thirds of doctors’ time is now spent dealing with administrative requirements. Much of which comes from the requirements set by insurance companies.
Working independently, DPC doctors are able to dedicate more of their time to seeing patients than to filling out paperwork. This means that they can both see more patients and keep costs down because they don’t need as much administrative staff to keep up with it all.
Even more importantly, without third-party payers, a direct relationship is formed between doctors and patients. Not only does this give them an incentive to give you the best service possible, but also a vested interest in your overall health.
Since you’re paying monthly, if you’re healthy that means you’ll make fewer appointments. That’s good for the doctor because they have to do less work, but still get paid the same. So they have a real incentive to get you on a healthy lifestyle from the start.
Compare that to doctors who earn their money by billing insurance. The more times you come in and the more things they prescribe, the more they make. I hate to say it, but that doesn’t give them much of an incentive to help you get better, does it?
In addition, with DPC, doctors are able to take the time and have the incentives to consider your overall health rather than to diagnose one issue at a time. This is important for anyone, but is critical for those with chronic illness so that one issue doesn’t turn into 8.7 more.
The Drawbacks to Direct Primary Care
While DPC is overall one of the best decisions you can make for your health, there are some things you need to be aware of before making the switch.
As direct primary care is a blatant form of rebellion against the insurance industry, it shouldn’t be surprising that insurance companies would not be very cooperative with them. Thus, if you use DPC on top of an insurance plan to cover your prescriptions, you may find that your insurance company may not be willing to accept prescriptions made by your DPC doctor.
Sure, this is a definite drawback, but it can easily be avoided by not signing up with a rigid insurance provider. Don’t go with Kaiser or Medicaid, they’re almost guaranteed to be like that. Instead, opt for a high deductible plan where you have more flexibility to see who you want.
Another drawback is that with DPC you can’t have a health care savings account. While it’s nice to have up to $3,500 tax-free, this is really just a way to trap you in the system. And I’d wager that the savings from Direct Primary Care will outweigh this in both the short and long-term.
For more information on how to control medical costs, check out the section of my blog dedicated to healthcare solutions for those without insurance.
All in all, cash-based healthcare solutions like DPC are not just an option for those with chronic illnesses, but probably the best thing you can do for your situation. Not only will this get you better care at lower prices, but it will enable you to have a doctor that cares about your health as a whole, drastically reducing your chances of developing additional illness or comorbidities.