Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'prevention'

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Affordable Care?

November 20, 2013

With the new year fast approaching, the Affordable Care Act is on everyone's minds. The Washington state website and the federal website have both been prone to errors and delays because of the overwhelming amount of traffic, making researching and enrolling in new plans a pain in the neck. It's also difficult to tell if your plan costs are going to be slashed because you are eligible for a premium subsidy, stay the same (as for those with employer coverage) or increase ridiculously (as some older patients are seeing). The first time I logged on, I was told that my demographic (36 year old non-smoking female) had no plans available (we are, after all, quite a rarity!). The second time, I was told that of course there was a plan for me, as a 25 year old male smoker..

With all this confusion. surrounding the ACA and the state benefits exchange, I find it helpful to enlist the aid of my healthcare broker, who previously spent time discussing my options for individual v. group coverage as a business owner as well as comparing and contrasting my plan options. Personally, I work with and highly recommend Kathy Miller of The Miller Connection in Everett. She takes the time to find out your unique situation to provide you with the best tailored advice. In the case of the healthcare exchange, she knows tips and tricks for getting the best possible quote, which takes a more nuanced approach than just filling in the blanks on the website. 

For my patients, I want to reiterate our commitment to providing affordable care. We will continue to offer cash discounts and a cap on our office visit charges for those who are eligible. As our sliding fee scales are only offered to uninsured patients, we hope to phase this out as more Washington state residents become enrolled in insurance plans. We will continue to offer payment plans to all of our patients. Our biggest news is that Stone Turtle Health is in the process of becoming a Medicaid provider with the state of Washington. This means we will be able to provide services to patients on various Medicaid-funded state health plans who were previously not offering naturopathic coverage. 

Families will continue to be able to schedule group appointments to cut down on costs, as well. Please consider bringing in your children in the months of November and December for a free 30-minute consultation to see if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for your family. 

As we move into the new era in medical reimbursement, I look forward to being able to provide care for more families in the community and to showing patients from all walks of life how affordable and sustainable naturopathic medicine really can be! Stone Turtle Health is committed to providing safe, effective, and financially-conscious care for your family!

 

60% of the time, they're right 100% of the time..

July 10, 2012

A friend of mine posted a screenshot of Fox News' latest propaganda attempt. Across the screen was the large print shocker: 83% DOCTORS CONSIDER QUITTING OVER OBAMACARE it screamed out. What? First of all, 83% of doctors can't even agree on basic healthcare screening guidelines like when to get a mammogram or how frequently your cholesterol should be checked, much less something as "controversial" as national health care. There was a survey done by DPMA, a conservative lobbyist group that is trying to raise funds to overturn the National Healthcare Act. 83% of their survey respondents were "considering quitting", but it wasn't linked directly to the passage of the bill. This sort of bogus "reporting" is part of what created the political divide today between states, neighbors, and even families. When all anyone hears is vitriol spewed about members of the opposing political party, other countries, our own government, and about people who earn more or less than us, it's bound to overthrow our reason and our critical thinking skills. 

That being said, I'm for "Obamacare". As a physician, I try to avoid getting too political for fear of alienating any of my patients. But coverage and healthcare for everyone does have a nice ring to it. I want to see more patients. I want to provide patients with preventive care and early interventions that keep them from seeking care at the emergency room for non-emergent medical problems. I want to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid- I would take more Medicare and Medicaid patients if I could. Right now, I choose to see them on my sliding fee scale because Medicaid and Medicare do not cover naturopathic physicians. I have committed myself to improving the lives of people in my community and that means seeing sick people who need care, not just sick people with insurance.

But, it would be easier to do that if I could get paid better. 

Part of what "Obamacare" does is to require insurance companies to use more of their member's premiums to pay doctors instead of their own CEOs. Yet Cigna's CEO made over $19 million last year. Last month, I got $37 from them for a patient visit that lasted 30 minutes. And the patient had a $40 copay on top of that. Any complaints about the unfairness of this to the patient or to the provider are met with cries of "free market economy" and "who are we to prevent businesses from making money" and "socialism".  And I am free to do as many of my colleagues do and not accept insurance or be an out-of-network provider. But I rely on insurance directories for some of my referrals and to allow more people to take care of themselves and to see a naturopathic doctor than might otherwise be able to. Yet there is a sharp divide between how much insurance companies are making and how much they are reimbursing doctors and patients are stuck in the middle (see my blog article on "The Insurance Secret" for more). 

Obamacare also provides subsidies for patients who can't afford policies on their own. Covering more of our vulnerable populations will keep them out of emergency rooms. Covering naturopathy would aid this and shift their burden of care to doctors who are willing and able to provide preventive and primary care medicine to reduce the numbers of people suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and allergies, etc that are a huge percentage of healthcare costs. A small study in Vermont showed that members of a professional association that joined a preventive healthcare program run by an ND were able to lower their direct healthcare costs by $21 for every $1 spent. This is phenomenal and, at the very least, should provide impetus for studies on a larger scale about the potential impacts by naturopathic medicine on the national healthcare debate.

The time for rational and intelligent merit-based and well-thought out discussions about where our country and our planet is going is rapidly dwindling as news outlets push their ratings up at the expense of the common good. Turn them off. Think for yourself. Teach your children (as my parents taught me) the power of emotional appeals and the importance of critically parsing statements to discover verifiable facts and how to make decisions based on those facts and how they impact our families, communities and our world.