by: Daniel Tribby ATC, CEAS, ITAT, CNP
Sound familiar? It seems the majority of consumers these days are looking for the greatest amount of value without having to break the bank to get what they want. Makes sense, right? But when it comes to our health, does it still make sense?
So many of us work our fingers to the bone and have the mindset that we only need to seek out a doctor, therapist, or other health care provider when there is a problem – illness, broken bones, back pain, etc. Then, we go to the doctor, pay this “copay,” are dumbfounded by the expensive nature of the copay often asking, “Don’t I have insurance? What are they paying for?” The truth behind insurance is that none of us really know what we are paying for or what they [the insurance company] will pay for until we’re standing there holding a bill. Be honest, when was the last time you really looked at your health insurance policy and understood what it says or doesn’t say? Then we’re even more infuriated when we pay our copay, wait an hour to be seen for 5 minutes by a person in a lab coat who has one foot out the door and leaves us with a bag of unanswered questions.
We take our $20, $30, or $40 copay and assign a value to it at this very moment. This immediately leaves a bad taste in your mouth and makes you not want to see any healthcare provider relative to that experience which happens to occur time and time again. Most people would agree that the value based on the delivery of services is garbage. Unfortunate reality. The most unfortunate part is it frames our expectations about every other medical facility we might visit. Again, always weighing value versus cost. But, I ask this question: how much is your health worth to you? How about the health of your loved ones? How about when you retire and want to enjoy yourself outside of the confines of that 9 to 5? I bet it’s more than a copay. Nevertheless, our brains are programmed by a system which ultimately raises the question, “Does my insurance cover it?”
The hard truth to this is that the insurance company, whom you pay, has decreased its reimbursement to health care providers for their services. This means that the normal doctor’s office or physical therapy office must see an even larger quantity of people just to maintain revenue streams and keep their doors open. And here it is – quantity versus quality. Time versus money. Purely transactional in its nature.
Let me give you a little background on myself as a health care provider, so it helps you understand the other side of this. I spent nearly 10 years working for the largest orthopedic practice in the southeast seeing an abundance of patients (18-25/ day) on any given day. This averages out to anywhere from 2-4 unique persons per hour of a regular workday. Imagine trying to satisfy the needs of that many toddlers during any given hour – crazy right? That’s exactly what it was – crazy. And no matter how well you performed and how many handwritten letters of excellence sent on your behalf, there is always a person in a top floor office, sitting in a leather chair, eating Bon Bons and watching Captain Kangaroo, who says, “Nice job. How many more people can you see?” It was at this point I realized that not only were my patients viewed as numbers on a page, I was also a number on a page.
Fast forward 5 years, having left that mill, started my own medical sales company, and vowing never to go back into healthcare until I could find a better delivery of services – insert the concierge medicine push and ACTIVCORE!
So many consumers have begun to look for something better, that something better is concierge medicine – the “Cheers bar” of healthcare if you will. Getting away from the transactional and pushing to the transformational. But… there is a cost associated with concierge medicine, and often we continue to base the value of it on our regular transactional experience and not on the value that comes with a concierge practice.
To be a concierge practice, most providers have to get away from the insurance game we discussed earlier, and this is the most liberating experience for everyone – providers and consumers. Providers no longer have to see multiple clients an hour or fight with insurance companies to be paid for their services or worry about the dance between clients that just want to be heard but never get the “time of day.” And most importantly, providers can put to use the ton of money spent on their educations and give the best of it to you, without interruption, and with nowhere else to be, but in the room with you. This is called value.
So, I ask you, how much do you value your time, health and hard-earned money? Would you rather pay $40 in copays for less value constantly weighing whether a doctor’s visit is worth your time? Or, would you rather spend your money for that Champagne taste, actually get it, get better in less time (hopefully), and feel like someone listened to you? Rhetorical.
Low and behold that same question will continue to come about: “Is it affordable?”
To which my answer is, “How can you afford for it not to be?”
I leave you with one final thought:
The Dalai Lama, when asked about what surprised him most about humanity, answered: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Take the time to invest in yourself, your health and the world of healthcare out there that is transformational.