There are, of course, myriad factors and considerations when pursuing optimized health, achieving better healthcare, and containing healthcare costs. It’s a lot to take in, especially when you try to do it in one, big gulp.
The key is to unbundle.
Set everything else aside, for the moment, and consider three things first. But, consider them one at a time – by themselves – and in a particular order.
1) Be Honest with Yourself & Set Realistic Health Goals
First, be honest with yourself about your current health and set some realistic, achievable health goals. General goals are fine to begin with. Don’t get bogged down with specifics (just yet).
- • How well do you take care of yourself?
• What chronic conditions are you managing?
• What’s in your family history that causes you concern?
• What age-related conditions might creep in?
- • What do you hope for your health in the future?
• What do you want to be able to physically do or accomplish?
• What do you want to feel like?
• What do you want to look like?
• What do you NOT want to worry about?
Fix these things in your mind. Write them down. Don’t move to the next thing too quickly.
2) Think Objectively and Define What You Want in a Primary Care Physician
Second – and separately – you are going to need a good primary care physician. We all do. Your health and chronic conditions may necessitate any number of specialists, but concentrate on primary care for the moment. Disregard the things that customarily keep us attached to a particular PCP (“takes” your insurance, has been your doctor for years, is located in convenient proximity to you…etc.) and think objectively.
• What do you really want in a doctor-patient relationship?
• What do you need from him?
• How accessible is your doctor?
• How long does it take to get an appointment?
• How much face time do you actually have with your doctor during appointments?
• Is your doctor proactively engaged in your health and well-being or does she simply medicate you when you’re sick?
• Does your doctor suggest and encourage natural, holistic approaches to health maintenance? Does she offer nutrition and fitness advice – tailored for you specifically?
• How about follow-up or ease of communication?
• Does your doctor really know you or are you primarily a name on a chart? Does that matter to you?
• What kind of doctor-patient relationship gives you the best chance for optimized health? Do you have that now?
When you have generally defined what you want – and deserve – in a primary care physician, move to number three.
3) Consider the Economics
Third, you have to consider the economics of it all. But, as with numbers one and two, think objectively. Set aside the inclination to make health and healthcare decisions from a place of fear. Oh, the fear is real enough. Most of us are more concerned about not being able to “afford” the healthcare we need than we are of being sick. And for good reason.
But does the way you pay for healthcare right now have to be? Might there be another way that makes more sense for you? Are you carrying too much health insurance? Do you really need the degree of comprehensive coverage you now have? (Remember, health insurance and healthcare are two different things. Healthcare can make and keep you well. Health insurance cannot. Learn more in Step #5 of our eGuide, 5 Steps to Better Healthcare at Lower Cost).
Have you considered some type of health savings account (HSA)? Have you looked into the possibility of paying for most of your healthcare out-of-pocket instead of a sole reliance on health insurance? Is it better for you to pay for insurance only, or to pay a subscription or membership fee to a direct primary care or concierge physician? How about one of the medical cost sharing plans available? Are you sure you are getting your money’s worth right now? Research and understand how the options work.
Now that you have considered and clarified these three things separately – that is, you’ve unbundled them from each other – start to put them back together. How can you best make them piece together to form your desired healthcare universe? Chances are you have some decisions to make. But remember this, you DO have options. You’re not locked into anything, necessarily.
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