Here is a dirty little secret: No one cares about your health and wellbeing as much as you, and you alone are responsible for your health. Your health is not the responsibility of the government, your insurance company, your wife, husband, children, or even your doctor.
However, owning your health is difficult. Due to the complexities of medical and scientific terminology, insurance rules, and the costs and underlying economic incentives driving the system, navigating the healthcare system can be daunting. Because of this, it is valuable to have a trusted team of health and medical providers with whom you can share your goals and unique circumstances.
To get the most out of life, you need to utilize medical experts and create a personalized health plan that is safe and effective. You need to know that you are capable of and ready for physical activity, especially if you have been sedentary or have not talked with your primary care physician in a while. You need to understand what medications and supplements you are or should be taking and why. You need to understand what diet is appropriate for you and your goals. You should understand what an appropriate body composition and body weight is for you. You should also be aware of any underlying metabolic conditions you might have. You should understand your hormonal health.
Having trusted relationships with healthcare providers is essential
Having trusted relationships with healthcare providers is essential, but not easy to accomplish. Short office visits make trusted relationships difficult for both patients and providers. Many doctors are opting out of traditional practice, opting for what has been coined “concierge medicine,” providing personalized, specialized assessment, and prescriptive services to a small number of patients. Unfortunately, concierge doctors are usually expensive and are not covered by traditional health insurance.
Remember your team extends beyond your primary care physician and includes: medical specialists, naturopathic doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists or optometrists, chiropractors, physical/massage therapists, dietitians and personal trainers/coaches. Find people you trust that you can work with to create a personalized plan for your goals and situation. Are you unsure of who the best providers are in your area? Leverage your network. Let them know what or who you are looking for and follow up by scheduling an appointment.
You can utilize your annual exam to establish or build a relationship with your doctor. Other reasons for an annual exam are:
Assessing your overall health and reviewing your health plan
Screening for cancer and other diseases
Updating your vaccinations and medical records (1)
Medical insurance is expensive and getting more expensive every year. Insurance in the United States is necessary because of the risk of medical bankruptcy due to the costs of unexpected medical procedures and treatments. However, you do not have to let your insurer dictate your care. This requires being active in your healthcare and understanding your situation and options to get what fits you best, not just what the insurance company will pay for.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
To maximize my control, I choose a high-deductible insurance plan that is coupled with a health savings account (HSA). With an HSA, I use pre-tax or employer-contributed money to select tests or procedures to benefit my health. This provides me with the most flexibility to determine what me and my doctor feel would be best.
I often purchase blood tests with my HSA in advance of seeing my doctor so we can discuss the results together. In most states, blood screens and other tests can be ordered and paid for yourself. I have found that self-pay for these tests can be cheaper than after-insurance costs. In one case, I purchased a panel of tests through my doctor that I knew would cost around $200 cash. On the insurance statement, the tests cost $800 from the lab. My insurance company negotiated a rate of $400 and would pay $200. This resulted in me paying $200 for the tests. In other words, the insurance company passed the real cost of the tests on to me.
You might find that prescriptions from services like Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs, Amazon Pharmacy or GoodRx are cheaper than your insurance co-pay. For example, I recently filled a 90-day supply of a prescription using one of these services for $40. My insurance co-pay was $80. This is an example of how being active in your healthcare choices can result in savings and less hassle.
Get the Best Out of the Medical System
To get the best out of the medical system, I offer the following suggestions:
Own your health. You alone are responsible for your health.
Build trust relationships with your healthcare team.
Create a plan to achieve your goals safely and effectively.
Share your goals with clear and ongoing communication. Ask your team how they can assist you.
Follow your plan and modify it as needed to accomplish your goals.
Do not let insurance dictate your care. Consider taking advantage of an HSA if one is available to you.
My mission is to inspire everyone to live the life of their dreams. I have a four-step plan for helping anyone look and feel better at any age. Leveraging your healthcare team is a part of the step Own Your Health. To learn more please visit www.absat60.com.
(1) Doshi, MD, Sangita. “Your Annual Physical and Why It’s Important.” Virtua Health, 18 December 2019, www.virtua.org/articles/your-annual-physical-and-why-its-important. Accessed 23 October 2022.
Written by Gregory Damian.