Why having a PCP (Primary Care Physician) will save you money.
This blog is meant purely for educational discussion of finance. It contains only general information about financial matters. It is not financial advice, should not be treated as such.
If you did not know it, bankruptcy from medical debt in the US affects 66.5% of all those filing for bankruptcy. Yes, 66.5%! Newly diagnosed cancers, heart attacks or strokes which may require prolonged hospitalizations or rehab stints drain savings. Without a steady income, what you have is a recipe for disaster.
Although some of these events cannot be predicted, most can be prevented to a great degree. THIS is where a good primary care physician (PCP) comes in. A PCP will guide you in the medical world. Among the many hats they wear, prevention, I believe is the greatest. According to recent research, having a PCP and following their recommendations improve patient outcomes and save a ton of healthcare dollars.
All too often, I hear about a 60-something year old patient who has never had a colonoscopy getting diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Many gastroenterologists argue that colon cancer, to a great degree, is a preventable cancer IF and only IF you get the colonoscopies when recommended, a good PCP will tell you when you should get one. Polyps can be removed before they become cancerous tumors requiring chemotherapy, surgery, or loss of a life.
In situ or stage I Colon cancer ~$28,000.00
Stage IV Colon cancer >$70,000.00
"An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure"
The same could be said of other medical conditions which inevitably can lead to a bad outcome. Worst of all these, in my opinion, is obesity. Obesity, in many cases, is the elephant in the room. Patients focus on things out of their control and fail to recognize the downstream complications obesity brings i.e. diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea, heart disease, hypertension, just to name a few. Following a PCP on a regular basis can help an obese patient stay on track. Diet plans, exercise regimens, and even bariatric surgery can be discussed during a visit. Some people who have no PCP may decide to see a doctor when they already have the symptoms of full blown diabetes or hypertension. By this time, several tests and medications are already required, which can be very expensive.
How do you find a good PCP? This is a good question. Unfortunately it is a trial and error kind of situation.
Word of mouth: I think this is the best way of going about it.
Reviews in Google or Healthgrades: This is usually the first thing that most people will do. Sometimes, the reviews can be misleading. One bad review from a disappointment patient may deter some patients from seeing an excellent physician.
Listening skills: this has proven to be one of the most important traits in a good PCP.
Gut feeling: Yes, gut feeling!, You know that thing you feel if you like someone or you don't.
Do not be discouraged by long wait times (weeks or even a couple of months) for an appointment. A good PCP will be booked out. I see it as a good sign.
There are just no good ways of finding a good PCP other than the ones I have mentioned above. A good PCP will pay you back dividends in ways difficult to quantify.
Till next time,