One of the things homesteaders ( a self-sufficient and independent lot) cannot do is their own DIY healthcare -- at least not for everything. Sure, we can mend cuts with superglue and drink echinacea-laced tea when we are getting a head cold. But between rising health insurance rates and the not-inexpensive cost of government-sponsored health care, higher-level care something we all worry about.
The fact is, I can take care of most things at home, but I can't give myself a blood analysis, a steroid shot, or prescribe myself antibiotics and a tetanus shot when I scrape my foot on a rusty nail.
So the question becomes what to do about medical-level health care? If you feel like a helpless victim strolling through the prepackaged food sections of your supermarket, try sitting in a doctor's office with 15 coughing, hacking people ahead of you, where you know you're going to get relatively impersonal, immediate-need medical advice, while the clock ticks and your doctor struggles to meet his daily quota of patients.
In light of all that, I recently elected to sign up with a "concierge" physician's practice. It's small, it's personal, and it doesn't have to follow the rules of giant healthcare corporations. It's different than any health care I've seen before. I can't really give a good review yet, but from what I've experienced so far, I'm impressed.
In case you're not familiar with concierge physicians, they charge a specific dollar amount per year for you to join their patient list (in my case it was $1800, and it took a great leap of faith for me to write out that check, believe me), with the aim being to have a small practice with patient-centered care. Insurance companies do not enter the mix. Government does not enter the mix. Just you and your doctor.
But here's why I am willing to pay that amount, up front, for a year's worth of care: All my blood work was included in the price (a huge panel of tests, measuring everything from red blood counts to Vitamin D levels -- a comprehensive analysis I've not had done in many years, if ever) as well as a hearing test, and any other in-office tests that are necessary throughout the year. It's all covered. The blood panel alone costs about $1,000 if done through insurance, and I paid nothing. The hearing test, another couple of hundred. So far, it seems a good value.
And of course office visits are now free of charge for a year -- as many times as I need or want to come in. With regular docs' office visit fees now running about $100 a pop (or more), it's easy to see how this won't actually cost me any more than it did before, and will encourage me to seek better health care, since I no longer have to worry about the office-visit cost, the time spent in the waiting room (fewer patients means almost NO wait time, plus same-day appointments whenever I need them) or my doctor not having time to listen to me and rushing in and out of the exam room in pursuit of the next 10 patients lined up behind me.
The $1800 fee also allows me to occasionally send in my children and husband in if needed and he will charge only a minimal office visit charge (about $40), further stretching that $1800. I have his cell phone, his email, and if I contact him he will get back to me within the same day. He can renew prescriptions or recommend home treatments on the phone if he wishes, because he doesn't have answer to anyone's insurance company. How many of us can say that about our doctors anymore? When is the last time your doctor emailed or called you at home?
This is a leap of faith to be sure, but with an $8,000 deductible for Big Ag's current Aetna health care plan, I figure we don't have much to lose. The other option is the one I've been practicing for the last three years, which is not going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. But preventative care can save you a lot of heartache and physical trouble, and for this year, anyway, I will get plenty of it.
Besides, I'm getting tired of super-gluing those cuts that actually need stitches, begging leftover antibiotics from friends and relatives, and attempting to diagnose aches and pains through internet research. Our grandparents paid for most of their medical care through family doctors, so I see this as a natural turning back to a simpler time.
I know my body better than anyone, but sometimes it takes more than that to make you well.