Let’s face it, Americans will continue to face rising healthcare costs. Whether measured relative to its population or economy, the United States spends by far the most in the world on health care. (Mark Pearson, OECD) The U.S. spent $8,233 on health per person in 2010. The average spending on health care among the other 33 developed OECD countries was $3,268 per person. Most of these costs are directly related to the upward spiraling costs of hospital procedures, prescription medication and imaging. Despite rising costs, the big five for-profit insurers continue to amass wealth for investors. During the 1st quarter of 2017, these insurers cumulatively collected $4.5 billion in net earnings. Without a doubt, medicine has become a full-fledged business. In business the goal is increased profits and strong ROI (return on investment). Patient care has become an investment, rather than a service. It’s a sad reality with no end in sight. Patients will continue footing the bill of big business growth while making the tough choices on how and when to access healthcare.
More and more people are jumping off the healthcare merry go round. Some are simply ignoring their health issues and going it alone since they lack any health insurance. Others will take the conscientious option, paying high insurance premiums but still ignoring their health issues to avoid the expense of high co-pays and deductible. In either case, the chance for healing is simply being avoided. Avoidance is not a healthy choice. Good health is great wealth. Let’s face it, we are talking about the health of you and your family. Health is a tangible product of how we live our lives and care for our body. Health is the sum of all that we do, all that we are and all that we can become. If you want to maintain health and wellness, then you need to become a health consumer.
Health consumers recognize that early intervention is always the key to a quick recovery. Some health factors (genetics, prior injury) are out of our control while others like nutrition, social well-being and good habits are well within our reach. Your health is dependent upon how you respond to warning signs. Some signs are obviously important like chest pain and difficulty breathing, other signs are subtler such as gradual onset of shoulder stiffness or back pain. A good health consumer reviews all the options and seeks medical attention when necessary. Don’t make the mistake of allowing healthcare costs or insurance limits dictate your health and wellness.
Avoiding or ignoring an unhealthy state is not a good option when it comes to maintaining wellness. In fact, there are some serious penalties for failing to address issues affecting your health and wellness. It’s a reality that most serious conditions start out as minor dysfunctions. The stiff shoulder which is so easy to ignore could be the start of a rotator cuff tear. The ankle that is always unstable could eventually lead to impingement of the hip or meniscal tear in the knee. Many times, I witness the results of this cascade of events. As I listen to a client share their story of how they became injured, I can’t avoid connecting the dots. It’s no surprise when the history includes minor pain or problems which gradually set the stage for a major problem. The high cost of accessing healthcare is a typical reason these signs were left unchecked and untreated. When a minor issue becomes a major problem there’s very few choices for how and when to access healthcare. Accessing healthcare due to an injury or serious condition incurs the greatest expense and most risk. The reality is that earlier intervention may allow healthcare access at the safest and least expensive point: Physical Therapy.
It’s quite easy to become a savvy healthcare consumer.
- Create Wellness. (ESW/ESR) Eat & Sleep Well, Exercise & Socialize Regularly. Some of our previous blogs cover the areas of nutrition, sleep and fitness in more detail. Being social requires a readiness to adapt and work with others towards a common goal. Check out our NExtra group fitness programs if you want a real challenge.
- Confront Challenges: Don’t avoid any signs or symptoms which interfere with your health and wellness. If you can’t sleep or exercise well because of a new or recurring pain or problem, then seek out a trusted medical provider. Medical guidance and early intervention maximizes your healing potential.
- Choose Wisely: It’s not wise to trust your health to Dr. Google. Instead, listen to sound medical advice and consider the best point to access healthcare. If you are dealing with a neuromusculoskeletal condition (joints, muscles, nerves) then conservative care is a valid choice. I’m biased, but the evidence seems to support my view. Physical therapy is a great option for restoring wellness without the risks associated with costlier medical care.
Being a healthcare consumer requires some investment in yourself. Believe me, you are worth it. Plus, you will gain the opportunity to treat health challenges early and choose options which maximize your healing potential to restore wellness without breaking the bank. For health consumers without insurance or who wish to avoid the limits of health insurance, Northern Edge PT has created a Wellness Program to help you get on track for better health.
Dr. Keith Poorbaugh has completed specialty certifications, internships and a residency fellowship to develop mastery of manual therapy skills and clinical expertise. Throughout 20 years of clinical experience, he has discovered that clients consistently heal faster when the provider is both compassionate and skilled.