Finding good medical care will be harder than ever in 2019. Especially if you live in a rural area. But the good news is, I have five simple tips to help you get the health care that you need most. More on that in a moment…
But first, let’s back up to look at a few big problems with the system…starting with over-specialization.
The problem with over-specialization
In my view, cardiology, urology, and orthopedics are the three worst offenders.
These highly trained physicians don’t look at your mind and body holistically. They look at your organ(s) as a series of disconnected parts. And in my view, over the past few decades, they increasingly seem to know more and more about less and less.
They’re known to over-diagnose and over-treat their patients. And they only offer drugs and procedures that affect the medical condition they’re interested in. Sadly, these treatments can cause both short-term and long-term harm to the rest of your body and mind, leaving you worse off than when you started.
Not surprisingly, you’re much better off finding a trusted and knowledgeable primary care physician who will follow your health more closely, keeping the bigger picture in view. These physicians resemble the general practitioner of yesteryear, but with added training. Plus, they’re qualified to provide ongoing care for the vast majority of patients — even those with chronic diseases.
The dying art of treating patients holistically
Under many health care plans, before you visit a specialist, you first need to obtain a “referral” from a primary care physician. Even for specialized services you may actually benefit from, such as eye doctors, rheumatologists, and GI doctors.
Plus, there are some nearly miraculous, modern treatments for certain conditions —when appropriate and indicated—such as heart valve replacements or cataract surgery. But you may not qualify for them, as health insurance companies block access and reimbursement at every turn, until you finally have to get on Medicare.
(Remember the old joke about the duck who went on Medicare? When you answered that you didn’t get it, the jokester would quip, “You’ll get it when you’re 65.”)
Plus, the problem of access to basic health care is only growing worse because there aren’t nearly enough primary care physicians to go around. In fact, a new study shows that 13 percent of patients (primarily in rural U.S. counties) no longer have any access to a primary care physician.
Plus, 50 percent of rural counties now have only one operating health insurance company — or none at all. This situation resulted directly from the passing of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, which resulted in insurance companies completely neglecting rural areas throughout America.
Finding no help in rural areas
I vividly recall some years ago when Congress wanted to hold hearings about the lack of insurance markets in rural areas, and other problems with the ACA, with Kathleen Sibelius, then Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Sibelius refused to show up to Congress or to appear on national media to answer questions — claiming she had out-of-town obligations.
We now know Sibelius manufactured those obligations after-the-fact by attending a last-minute commitment to speak at a politically correct conference on “urban health” in Philadelphia. (Philly is all of 90 minutes “out-of-town” from Washington, D.C., by train.)
Sad to say, my alma mater, University of Pennsylvania, sponsored this conference. At the time, Ezekiel Emanuel was serving as Penn’s Vice President for Health. (Of course, Emanuel’s brother, Rahm, was then Obama’s chief of staff and is now the failed, outgoing mayor of Chicago.) During this national health care crisis, Emanuel represented Sibelius to Congress and the national media while she essentially hid.
Clearly, the ACA was about improving “urban health” all along — at the expense of the rural half of the country. And, in the end, it proved to be negligent, expensive, and harmful for most people who had health insurance in the U.S. These folks already had doctors and insurance plans they wanted to keep, but they lost out. And it’s been a total disaster for rural health ever since.
Of course, a federal just judge recently ruled, finally that the ACA is unconstitutional (which should be clear to a sixth-grade civics class). So we’ll see how it all plays out.
Protect yourself during the primary care crisis
In the meantime, I believe technology could help provide some solutions to the primary care crisis. With new tools, you could communicate and interact with your primary care provider on a computer or by mobile device.
In fact, the technology is here and readily available…and primary care doctors are willing to participate. But they face problems getting reimbursed by our old friends in the insurance industry. (Of course, insurance companies have no problem transmitting your x-rays and imaging studies all the way to India, instead of hiring more expensive U.S. radiologists, to save some money.)
As Congress and the health insurance industry continue to dither about the problems they caused but refuse to fix, I have five simple tips for you to navigate your way through this complex maze.
1.) Avoid medical care and hospitals when possible
When it comes to medical care, less is often more. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Bernard Lown, called it “avoidable care,” as I have written about before. Dr. Lown said that using every drug and technology ever developed, at every opportunity, harms patients. It also creates excessive and avoidable costs. Not to mention, it often defies patient preferences.
2.) Minimize health care costs
If you can find an insurance company that will offer a simple, major medical or hospitalization plan, get it. (These kinds of core benefit plans were impossible under ACA rules, but the new administration is rapidly making reforms.)
3.) Seek out natural health practitioners
With the money you save by opting for just major medical health insurance, or basic Medicare without paying more for useless “supplemental” insurance, you can seek out natural practitioners — such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, and naturopaths. They have safe, affordable, and effective solutions to common health conditions.
4.) Practice self-care at home
Keep reading my Daily Dispatch and Insiders’ Cures newsletter to learn more tips about nutrition, supplementation, and other natural, actionable approaches that will help you achieve optimal health.
5.) Get outside in Nature
As always, get moderate amounts of physical activity each week — all it takes is a total of 2.5 hours per week. And getting outside in Nature to exercise is best for the added benefits of sun exposure.
You may want to see if you can find an old copy of Every Man His Own Doctor, a classic do-it-yourself guide that detailed treatments for a wide array of ailments. It was the most popular book in the U.S. during the 1800s and first half of the 1900s. And it’s even mentioned in many other popular books — from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (1884) to John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (1952).
In addition, if your primary care doctor wants to learn more about natural approaches, recommend they check out my free Daily Dispatch e-letter or Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter.
In the meantime, here’s my promise to you: I’ll continue to report on the growing science that shows you can prevent — and even reverse — chronic medical conditions using natural approaches. Including inflammatory conditions, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, prostate disorders, aging, and even certain cancers.
P.S. Tune back in tomorrow for the first installment of my sensible, 10-step plan for a healthy and happy 2019.
“Primary Care Shortage Growing Across U.S.,” Medpage Today (medpagetoday.com) 9/14/2018