The Rise of the Empowered Patient

Part 1: The Rise of the Empowered Patient

In Physical Therapy by Seth Peterson, Physical Therapist Oro Valley

The New Healthcare: A 3 Part Series

It may not be news to you that the healthcare system in the United States isn’t exactly hitting it out of the park.  We spend more on healthcare than any other country and (on most fronts) don’t have much to show for it.  Certainly, we have great medical schools, but most people agree something is majorly wrong with the way our system is set up.

Recently, Aetna’s medical director admitted under oath to denying claims without even reviewing the patient records.  To make matters worse, premiums (the amount you/your employer pays monthly) are rising.  Look at a graph below from the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation  and you can see the trend.

Increases in Health Insurance Premiums 1999-2015

You can usually find a cheaper plan if you are willing to look, and usually these plans are called “high deductible plans.”  These are plans where you, as a patient, are responsible for paying more upfront before insurance will kick in.  For example, a plan may require you to pay $5,000 out of your own pocket before it will begin covering the costs of some services.

With these plans, you can avoid paying a higher monthly fee, but if you need a lot of healthcare in a given year, it means the healthcare companies are requiring YOU to shoulder the costs.  Here is a look at the trend graph of high deductible plans (spoiler alert: it doesn’t look much different from the one above!).

High deductible of $1000 or more for single coverage

While somewhat frightening, these flaws provide and opportunity – and a NEW and better option is emerging.  People from across the country are getting fed up with seeing their physicians and physical therapists for less and less time while paying increasingly more.  In response, there is a wave of people deciding instead to go to direct primary care physicians.

These are some of the best doctors in the country and are making the decision to become unshackled to insurance contracts, which means they can provide healthcare at a reasonable cost.  Instead of $2,500, an MRI costs $250.  If you pair that with a health savings account, most patients can expect to save money (depending on how often they may see the doctor), while seeing their physician for a longer period of time.

There is a group of physical therapy clinics making the same decision, and we have joined the movement to a new and better option in our healthcare system.  Our hope is that by teaming up with a select group of insurers and simply not being contracted with others, our patients can experience the best physical therapy experience possible and reach their goals faster.

A few key principles have been a guiding light for our clinic and clinics like us.  As you read the following, ask if that’s something that you’d like in your healthcare provider.

  1. We provide value and put your goals ahead of profits.
  2. We let your mission drive us and are never shackled to an insurance company who may not even read your chart.
  3. We don’t have a board of directors to satisfy or quotas to meet.
  4. We don’t prescribe addictive medication or surgery. We teach you to become a pain killer.

If these sound like rules you would like your healthcare provider to live by, or if you agree that our healthcare system needs a better option, please let us know in the comments below or shoot this post out to anyone you know.  In the new healthcare system, you— the patient—holds the cards.  We see this as the rise of the empowered patient.  It’s exciting and it’s liberating.  This may be the new option in healthcare, but we believe it’s the way it should have been all along.

Talk to a Physical Therapist

Seth Peterson
Oro Valley Physical Therapist
(520) 389-5311
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