Let’s (really) talk about healthcare

My health care story goes like this: It’s often difficult to find and maintain a good doctor. I have had four good doctors in my adult life; three of whom were gynecologists. The fourth doctor was my primary care physician. All of them were women, and they “got” me. I felt comfortable talking to them. I knew that I could be candid. I felt that each doctor had my best interest at heart. She listened to what I had to say; in some cases heard what I tried to sweep under the proverbial rug. I always felt that any recommendations were medically sound with my best interest at the forefront that advice.

I had to switch two of the above mentioned gynecologists because I relocated. My awesome primary care physician relocated. And my now former gynecologist switched practices-(I’ve posted her picture on lamp posts throughout the city), please call me if you find her.

Bedside manner is critically important to me. I have to feel safe, heard, seen, and respected by my doctor. Period. I think most if not all of you would agree with me.

In light of the numerous changes to our health care system, it seems that health care has become “corporate.” With the exorbitant costs of malpractice insurance, many physicians have opted to leave private practice, to join medical groups, or hospitals. Which usually translates to a more structured approach to doctor’s visits, e.g., timed one-on-one sessions with your doctor. In some cases, patients spend more time in the waiting room to see the doctor, than they do with the doctor.

Most private businesses provide their employees with consumer-driven health care plans. Which is customarily defined as an insurance plan that allows its members to use a HSA (health spending account), to pay for qualifying healthcare costs. There are many other key components to these plans that take time to learn and understand, in order to use healthcare effectively and economically. Some people are able to delve into this information easily, while others use their healthcare insurance more passively. For many employer-provided healthcare plans, it’s also the responsibility of the consumer (you/me), to do our due diligence in advance when selecting our health care providers. For example, knowing whether a particular doctor or practice is in or out of network, versus asking the general question of whether a doctor or facility “takes my insurance,” is key.

Health care is a personal necessity that is increasingly requiring a higher degree of business acumen or savvy on behalf of the consumer. Some of us have a better understanding of our healthcare benefits than others. It is also easier to execute when can plan when and how you will you use your healthcare. It’s even more helpful if you can consult with your primary care physician, on what’s the best option(s) for your case. In emergency situations, however, and namely during unprecedented times such as this current pandemic, health insurance coverage, co-insurance, and deductibles becomes a secondary, or tertiary concern.

So when we as a society enter into discussions on why certain demographics are seemingly more at risk, or disproportionately seem to suffer from pre-existing health issues (e.g. diabetes, obesity, hypertension, asthma, etc.), it is imperative that we pan out to see the big picture. A community is only as healthy as the viable options that are offered to, and serve that particular community. This includes proper food and nutrition sourcing, access to safe, clean recreational facilities (e.g. parks, fitness centers), in addition to the availability of local resources, information, and most importantly, quality healthcare facilities, and providers that serve and respect these communities.

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