Saving 10 cents a gallon costs more than one thinks.

What is your health worth?

This is a question that I often find myself mulling.  Not for me, but for potential clients.  Many times, people only focus on the value of their hard earned dollar rather than finding the health care provider that can provide the highest quality care.  Have we become so complacent that “just good enough” is acceptable when it comes to health care services but finding the best hair stylist or going to the spa or other “luxuries” are deemed more valuable and higher in worth than your own HEALTH?   

Several years ago, I remember reading the results of a health care survey.  It showed that only 30% of people valued quality health care.  30 PERCENT.  I was shocked.  More than 60 % valued cost over everything else.  This is YOUR HEALTH.  “Just good enough” doesn’t cut it for me, but apparently I’m in the minority.  I value my health, I value my hard earned dollar too.  I want the best within reason in all aspects of my life and willing to travel to find the best.

The mere idea that because we have health insurance, it should cover the costs of our health care.  It’s not that simple.  Times have changed.   Unfortunately, the scope of health insurance and health care providers has changed dramatically even in my short career.  We have gone from a system of reasonable health care premiums with reasonable coverage and deductibles, to outrageous premiums, less coverage and ridiculously high deductibles.  I see the field from both sides.  I’m a patient just like everyone else, but I’m also a health care provider.  I am health care provider that spent a lot of time (and money) in school.  I went to school to help people, not jump through hoops playing the insurance game to barely make a living.
Sub par care and the “just good enough” thinking has allowed this type of system to flourish.  As patients, I understand that we are not fighting against our providers, it is the insurance industry we are fighting.  They focus on the business of making money, PROFIT.  Patients and providers do not win.  I’m willing to bet patients would like quality care, but accept “just good enough” because providers are stuck trying to keep the office open and overschedule to make ends meet.  Providers don’t want to do it this way.  They really don’t.  Winning the ”most patients seen in a day” award is not something providers strive for.  Insurance companies, namely diminishing reimbursement rates, force providers to practice this way.   High volume practices, minimal personal attention, and diminished quality of care.  It’s unfortunate.  I sure didn’t go to school just so I could cram in as many patients into my schedule and spin my wheels sacrificing quality of care and the personal relationship I develop with my clients.  We didn’t go to school to push paper and deal with insurance paperwork.  We are clinicians, we deserve to be paid for our knowledge and skills to help patients get better.

Private practitioners, like those of us at CMPT, are in private practice for a reason.  It’s all about QUALITY of care, not QUANTITY.  It allows for the freedom to actually work with clients one on one, develop a working relationship, and utilize treatment methods that will best treat our clients, not by what is covered most by insurance.  More importantly, we focus on getting results.  With the changing face of health insurance, more providers are participating less and less with insurances.  The reimbursement rates have gone down which does NOT allow providers to earn a decent living.  It’s a slap in the face to providers by insurance companies as their profits continue to rise. 

Big picture costs.  We cut out the insurance contract headaches (ie participate with insurance plans) for all the reasons listed above.  Because we focus on results, we can get our clients better sooner.  From a psychological perspective: 1) one on one care allows the provider and client more time together without feeling rushed and develop a professional rapport (remember, the provider does care about your well-being, this one on one time is about you), 2) hands on care- there is something about the human touch that allows one to feel like they are being cared for.  It’s a positive thing.  Positive feeling/thinking yields better outcomes.  What is this worth to you?  Quite frankly, I like that personal touch and interaction.  I know that the entire session is focused on me and not the 3 other patients in the facility getting “treatment” at the same time.  Who doesn’t want all that personal attention?   Yes, it may cost you more up front, but for a shorter amount of time.  That cost sharing the provider’s time with others at a “big box” facility maybe your co-pay, but you may end up going for a longer period of time and spending the same amount, for results that may vary.  Honestly, my time is valuable and I don’t have much of it to waste.  The old saying “Time is money.”   How efficiently are you using your time?  There are people that will bypass convenience to save a few bucks to go elsewhere that takes them 3 times as long to get to and from, increased time spent in clinic doing things you could do at home, and add in the gas plus wear/tear on your vehicle to travel.  Its like trying to save 10 cents a gallon on gas by going across town to get it.  In the end, you may have saved a few bucks but it took you 45 min to save 10 cents a gallon.  In reality, you actually spent more in money AND time.

Clients tell me they see me or one of my colleagues, because we get to the root of the problem, we help them understand (educate) what is going on, we are convenient, time efficient and we get results.  Many of our clients have been to other clinics only to eventually see us and subsequently vent their frustration of their experiences at “other” places.  A past patient was seeing another PT for 3 weeks of just doing some exercises, she was no better and still in pain.   Her friend referred her to me and within two sessions, she was pain free for the first time in a month.  She couldn’t believe it.  Two sessions of hands on care and she was as happy as can be. 

Just in the last couple of weeks, three former clients returned to me with a new issue.  They remembered what I had said from their last visits (6 to 12 months ago), “If anything comes up in terms of something hurting, DO NOT WAIT.  If the pain does not go away after a week or two, then give me a call.  The sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner it will go away.”  Sure enough, they contacted me within 3 weeks of these new pains and within 2-3 visits, they were pain free to return to their lives barely skipping a beat.  

So, really, what is your health and well-being really worth?  “Just good enough” and treat the symptoms, OR find the problem and address it?  You pay for what you get. 
You only have one body, treat it well, because the alternative may not be pleasant.

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.

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