• Health care vs. Health insurance

    on Mar 16th, 2017

Politicians speak of health care and most individuals think of health care in terms of whether or not they have health insurance. Hence there is heightened panic expressed in the news media about the recent removal of the individual and employee mandates and the anticipated millions of additional people without health insurance.  The message generated is that all those people will be without health care.

This is a myth and very misleading.  True health care actually reflects the direct doctor patient relationship which exists in the profession of medicine.  And it all starts with a good primary care physician.  A good primary care physician is available when you need them, but also curious, highly trained, and capable of recognizing and communicating to you exactly what health priorities are individually relevant.  The amazing thing is that the cost for this is actually a fraction of what most people end up paying for health insurance.  For example, a comprehensive new patient exam in our office is $200 and subsequent office visits are only $100.  (With health insurance, you pay a monthly premium automatically and then you still have to find a doctor). Appropriate lab fees and EKGs are heavily discounted and hence a comprehensive internal medicine check up in our office is not only affordable, but accurately screens for diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, thyroid disease, anemia, liver, kidney, and electrolyte disorders.  Treatment is also truly affordable, particularly given my philosophy of supporting a healthy diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and being able to provide relevant free samples of medications, when necessary.  For most common health problems, including those listed and prevention of heart disease, strokes, antibiotics for various infections, inhalers for asthma, and hormone therapy, to name a few, there is absolutely no requirement for health insurance.

Rather, health insurance should be for the big items; eg major surgeries and hospitalizations.  Therefore, having a high deductible to lower the monthly premiums and paying for primary care directly is the optimal way to go.  In addition, our office for the past 15 years, has offered a montly option of $95 per month, which limits the total cost for primary care services.  My patients who have opted for this enjoy unlimited office visits, including all the necessary labs and EKGs for no additional cost.  This is particularly attractive for my patients with known chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, and obesity, who know their health conditions need to be tracked on a regular basis.  Many of these patients do not have any health insurance, but take satisfaction in knowing that the best insurance against using your health insurance is seeing their primary care doctor to keep them healthy.

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Brian Flyer, MD
50 North La Cienega Boulevard
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Beverly Hills, CA 90211