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Tuesday, 15 October 2013 12:15

Healthcare for Young Families in the US

Parents are often faced with the anxiety of possible future injuries and illnesses because the cost of seeing a doctor or visiting the hospital involves high deductibles and co-pays. 

These days, healthcare is a raging topic for citizens, politicians and medical providers throughout the country. For young families especially, the question of affordable and quality care is an important one to consider.

But a new take on a traditional form of medical practice might be out to answer this question for families and individuals of all ages. The relatively recent concept of concierge care offers primary and preventative health services which are more accessible and affordable. 

What is DPC?

Concierge medicine is a return to the old days when the town doctor was paid in chickens or gold just like the butcher, baker, and blacksmith. Today, it is being called direct primary care (or DPC) and describes over 4,400 American doctors, as reported by Forbes magazine, who have grown tired of the red tape involved with medical insurance. By opening DPC practices, these physicians deal directly with their patients in a cash-only model.

In order to make this kind of care more affordable, many doctors charge their patients a monthly flat rate for unlimited access to primary care. These plans cost anywhere from $50 to$150 for an adult and generally around $10 for a child, says Concierge Medicine Today. In return, your doctor will see you once or see you once every day. It is also recommended that DPC patients carry low-premium insurance for hospital stays and other emergencies not able to be cared for by the DPC provider.

How Can It Save Money?

Even with a monthly fee and a lower-premium insurance plan, paying for direct primary care is often more cost-effective that traditional health insurance. This is good news for the working families that comprise 75% of America’s uninsured. 

“Insurance consumes more than 40 cents of each dollar,” reports the Direct Primary Care Coalition. In contrast, DPC saves money three ways by:

1. Relieving doctors from the cost of hiring a billing office.

2. Allowing physicians to move their income away from a pay-per-visit model.

3. Cutting out the middleman when purchasing tests and supplies from lab companies.

Because DPC is a flat monthly rate, doctors are not dependent on the volume of patients they treat in a day. This allows them to drop their patient lists from around 2,000 to about 300 or 400. This results in better care and less burnout.

Since doctors can order a cholesterol test directly from the lab company, the test can cost $3 instead of the usual $90 which an insurance provider would be billed. (This example was originally reported by CNN Money which also mentioned that an “MRI can be had for $400, compared to a typical billed rate of $2,000 or more.) 

Why DPC Offers Better Care

Because DPC is not dependent on the number of times a patient visits, it does not require doctors to see their patients in five to ten minute visits on what feels like a conveyer belt through the office.  Instead, doctors are more available to spend anywhere from a half hour to a full hour talking with their patients and trying to find the best solutions for them. In addition, doctors are able to enjoy increased career satisfaction while avoiding the stress of being over committed. 

Studies have shown that direct primary care results in better overall health. This is because DPC makes preventative checkups and testing more readily available. And that helps catch diseases more quickly and improve health and wellness.

For this reason, DPC also makes a great alternative for families. As children grow and play, they frequently fall, bruise, cut themselves, come down with fevers or runny noses. Being able to run into the doctor for a quick double check about a tumble down the stairs gives families increased peace of mind. 

If you believe that your family stands to benefit from a different kind of healthcare, then there are multiple options, such as direct primary care from MDVIP, to research. Equipped with better access to quality doctors, your young family can be on its way to better health and greater peace of mind about the future.

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Please note, this article is written in regard to the USA health insurance system and may not be applicable in all countries. Please consult with your local insurance and care providers for further information. 

Published in Child Health

I remember the first birth I attended as a midwifery student. It was this mom’s first baby. At one point during transition, she was in the bath and she was moaning as loud as she could. I began to feel uneasy that she was experiencing so much pain. My instinct was to try and help her “calm down”. My preceptor however just sat with her and encouraged her to express herself. After the birth, I shared with the midwife that I was sorry this mom had struggled so much in the last stages of labor. My preceptor asked: “Do you think that because she was screaming she was not in control of her labor pain?” I was surprised by her question. Yes, I had to admit that I had thought that. But, in truth, this birthing mama had just followed her instincts and expressed each wave of contractions in her own unique way. She later confided in us that her moaning really helped get her through the birth pains.
Just over a year ago, I was a doula for a sweet young mom. She sailed through her induction and even invited her acupuncturist to the birth. As she pushed, she told us that her baby wasn’t moving down. The midwife kept telling her to push and that she was doing great. But, she continued to tell us that it wasn’t working. Her words were interpreted as discouragement. But this young mom was giving us important clues to her birth that we ignored. The birth ended in a shoulder dystocia, with an OB performing the McRoberts manoeuvre and giving her a huge cervical laceration. After the birth, the mom asked, “Why didn’t anyone listen to me?” She had pushed for so long without any real help. She gave us important clues that we ignored.

Are we really listening to birthing mothers? Do we misinterpret the sounds they make? Do we ignore the words they say? Are we missing important clues by assuming that birthing women are not in control or not able to participate in feeling their way through the birth process? Are we letting mothers down by not validating and encouraging verbal participation in their births (whether through sounds or words)? Have we forced birth sounds and birth words into a box so that we don’t truly hear what women are communicating at their births? Worst even, are we putting words into the birthing woman’s mouth?

In a recent discussion on The Birthing Site’s Facebook page, we were asking moms if they spoke words like “I can’t do this anymore!” at their birth. Many women said they did. But, what surprised me was that some women said they only spoke those words because they felt that’s what was expected of them, that they didn’t really mean it, that they didn’t really know why they spoke those words. Wow. Think about that. What are you saying at your births? What are you hearing at other women’s births? Have we lost the art of listening to birth and expressing birth? Are women feeling hindered to speak a unique and truthful birth language of sounds and words during childbirth?
We must not assume. We need to ask ourselves:

Does screaming at a birth really mean a loss of control?

Do words like “It doesn’t feel good, Ouch! Don’t make me do that!, I can’t do this anymore!, Don’t touch me!, I can’t feel the baby moving down!” really mean that mom is discouraged and can’t clearly express herself through the pain? Are her words evidence of cultural expectations?

I encourage you to give every birthing woman the gift of listening and believing. Be slow to assume and quick to learn about each woman’s unique birth language! Have confidence in your own birthing language and choose support people who will listen and believe!

Published in Julie-Anne's Blog

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