When our model hits home–the proof is in the pudding.

 

pudding

Pudding Proof

I recently had the opportunity to experience the pitfalls of my own commercial health
insurance.  I tell patients all the time “the proof is in the pudding.”  Well it was my turn to see how this pudding really was in the health insurance world.

 

 

Recurrent Streprapid_strep_pos

This past fall my daughter was hit with yet another bout of strep throat.  She has fought it throughout her young life.  At the age of seven I made the call to consult with one of my favorite ENT docs.  It was an easy decision that she would do better if we proceeded with tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

 

High-Deductible-Health-Plan-paired-with-a-Health-Savings-AccountHigh Deductible

I, like so many of my patients, have a high deductible plan that I have married with an HSA(Health Savings Account).  I knew the bulk if not all of the cost of the procedure would be my responsibility.  I did not hesitate to ask for cash pricing.

Insurance Negotiated Pricing vs Cash Pricing

Pricing for any surgical procedure needs to include the following fees:

  1.  Surgeon’s Fee
  2.  Anesthesiologist’s Fee
  3.  Surgical Facility’s Fee

INSURANCE NEGOTIATED PRICING:  

Surgeon $372.51
Anesthesiologist + Facility $2624.00
Total Cost $2996.51

CASH PRICING: 

Surgeon $402.50
Anesthesiologist $578.00
Facility $879.83
Total Cost $1860.33

FINAL PRICING AND SAVINGS:

I was actually able to pay the insurance negotiated pricing for the surgeon and the cash pricing for the anesthesiologist and the facility.  My final pricing was $1830.34 for the entire procedure.  And there lies the proof in the pudding:

Almost $1200 in Savings

Happy Healthy Kid at Great Cost Savings by Paying Cash

alliej.jpg
Bear was Free!

Ann Riggs, DO

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Poison Ivy Prevention–Are you ready to ditch the itch?

Leaves of three, let them be!! Hairy vine, no friend of mine!! Raggy rope, don’t be a dope!! Berries white, run in fright!! Growing up in the midwest, most of us are well informed of this itchy summer issue. We know to avoid the plant, wear protective clothing, and wash the oil off as soon as exposed.

Image result for poison ivy, leaves of three, let them be

 

As a young child I was never allergic and spent most of my summers exploring the woods, marveling at the wonders of nature. When I developed a rhus (poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac) allergy as a young adult, it seriously impacted my enjoyment of the summer!!

Five years ago I heard of a pharmacy in Warsaw, Missouri offering a poison ivy prevention treatment. My husband and I had recently purchased a farm with extensive poison ivy actively growing. I had spent the last 3 summers requiring multiple steroid injections for poison ivy so both of us decided to give this a try.

And it WORKED!! Each year it works even better. Some people get complete immunity. I have never been that lucky but have significant less skin eruption with direct contact of the plant and no spread. I have not required steroid treatment for 4 years now and might get one small blister in the area of direct skin contact with the plant.

This is a homeopathic treatment and does not impact medications or supplements. Poison Ivy Oral Solution is designed to work as a preventative to help protect against getting poison ivy. The cost for members is $40 and the cost for non-members is $60 at Direct Medical Care.  This solution is held in the mouth for 30 seconds and then swallowed. Poison Ivy Solution is best taken between meals. Mint flavored foods or mouthwashes must be avoided 30 minutes to one hour before and after administration. The first dose of the medication should be administered in a physician’s office, the other’s may be taken at home. Patients taking the Poison Ivy Solution during the plant’s active growth phase (late spring and summer) should keep away from the plant until all three vials have been taken.

First dose monitoring in the doctor’s office is related to the active ingredient in the solution. It contains a dilution of the resin of the plant Rhus Toxicdendron. I have not seen a case of allergy to the solution, but it is theoretically possible.

The treatment success I have experienced is part of the reason I pursued integrative medicine. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of alternative treatments. I typically order my own solution in March and will be putting an order in soon.

Are you ready to ditch the itch?

Beckie Moore, Integrative Family Nurse Practitioner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomers Beware

The Scarehepc2

The recent commercial promoting screening for hepatitis C in the Baby Boomers has scared many of my patients and their friends. Scare tactics usually work for a desired action, but is this really necessary?  I would argue it is not.

Hepatitis C Commercial

The Facts

Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood exposure.  It is estimated that almost 3.2 million people in the United States have the virus.

The hepatitis C virus can cause liver damage, can cause cancer, and can cause death because of the liver damage or cancer.  You can also have the virus and never develop symptoms.

hepc1

Risks for acquiring hepatitis C:

tattoos, blood transfusions, organ recipients, accidental needle sticks, IV drug use, and sexual intercourse

 

 

 

My Thoughtshepc3

Pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in the drugs used to treat hepatitis C have a lot to profit with increased diagnosis.  With increased screening, we get increased diagnosis which leads to increased usage of medications which leads to huge monetary gains for the pharmaceutical companies.  While we do not include hepatitis testing in our routine labs we do recommend annual evaluation of liver enzymes which indirectly looks for the presence of hepatitis C.

And while I have certainly lost patients from a variety of disease processes, I have never had a patient die from hepatitis C…don’t be scared regarding this issue, talk to your doctor.

 

Ann Riggs, DO

 

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More Frazzled Than Dazzled?


stress1Whether you are traveling or hosting the holidays, this time of year brings with it an abundance of stress. Finding the perfect gifts and dealing with difficult family members can, for some, overshadow the reason for the season. Oh, and everyday life keeps on ticking as well.

What can we do to slow down, relax, remain healthy and enjoy??

Try this simple breathing exercise. It’s called the 4-7-8 breath and can actually alter our nervous system. It is calming and relaxing, it is free and it is easy!

Digital Download: Relaxing Breath, Calming PosterFirst, exhale completely, blow all that stress and frustration OUT.

Second, inhale through your nose to the mental count of 4.

Third, hold your breath for a mental count of 7.

Next, exhale through your mouth to a mental count of 8.

Lastly, repeat this sequence for a total of 4 breath cycles.

I recommend starting and ending your day with this breathing exercise and adding it in any time you feel stressed throughout your day.

This is quick, anyone can do it and it has research proven health/relaxation benefits.

This simple breathing technique can help us erase some of the stress in our busy lives.

The power of the breath! Is it really that easy? Try it and find out. Prepare to be Dazzled!!

—Beckie Moore, Integrative Family Nurse Practitioner

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Magnificent Magnesium

mag7.jpg

Role of Magnesium

mag5

 

Magnesium is #12 on the Periodic Table and is a mineral that plays a role in many bodily functions. There are over 300 reactions in your body that depend on this vital mineral.

 

Magnesium Deficiency

It is estimated that 80% of individuals would benefit from magnesium supplementation. Magnesium is not checked on routine lab evaluations.  Common signs of possible magnesium deficiency are below:

mag4

Magnesium Sources

Dietary sources:

  • mag1dark leafy greens
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fish
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • avocados
  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • dried fruit
  • dark chocolate

Magnesium supplements:

There are so many forms of magnesium salts used for repletion and supplementation.

  • Magnesium Ascorbate
  • Magnesium Aspartate
  • Magnesium Bicarbonate
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Magnesium Citrate
  • Magnesium Fumarate
  • Magnesium Gluconate
  • Magnesium Glutamate
  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Magnesium Lactate
  • Magnesium Lysinate
  • Magnesium Malate
  • Magnesium Orotate
  • Magnesium Oxide

Which is best???  And to be honest until writing this blog I had never considered the differences.  In my research, I now recommend one of the following:

Magnesium Citrate–induces more gastrointestinal side effects for individuals that may suffer from constipation

Magnesium Glycinate–induces less gastrointestinal side effects for individuals that do not have any constipation issues

Magnesium Oxide–most available, affordable and side effect profile more neutral

 

Ann Riggs, DO

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**disclaimer:  noted misspellings/grammatical errors in graphics but felt graphics value outweighed the errors.

 

The Calorie Creep

But Doctor I am not eating that much…

While there are always exceptions rarely does one become overweight by not eating.

The balancing act of  creating a calorie deficit is key for weight loss.  Please see my prior blog post regarding the fundamentals of weight loss:

Calories Consumed < Calories Expended= Weight Losswtmgt4

It can be one misstep in your day that will sabotage all your good efforts.  Stealing the term introduced to me by an inspiring patient, I would like to bring “the calorie creep” to life in the pictures below:

Keep in mind it does not have to be junk food that can be your calorie creep–avoid the creep in whatever form!

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare

 

Sneezing, Runny Nose, Itchy Eyes are Here

ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Puffey eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Asthma flares
  • Difficulty breathing
Grastek5TIMOTHY GRASS ALLERGIES

One of the most common allergens is grasses and specifically timothy grass.  We are seeing these right now. While preventive treatment is ideal, treatment is currently focused on relieving the symptoms. There is a new option for allergy sufferers of common grasses for future seasons.  The middle of freezing temperatures is when the grasses are dormant.  It is that time that preventive treatment needs to start.

The newest option to treat for the timothy grass allergen is Grastek.   This is immunotherapy in a pill. For those that have endured the weekly shots this is a novel, relatively painless approach to immunotherapy that can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Grastek covers Timothy grasses but also has cross coverage to other grasses.

It should be started for seasonal care 12 weeks ahead of pollen and throughout the season or taken consecutively for 3 years.

Click on the following link for more information on administration of Grastek.

RAGWEED ALLERGIES
ragweed

Another common allergen that is on the horizon is ragweed.  Fortunately, our timing of discussing this form of treatment is ideal.  The same manufacturer of Grastek has developed a similar treatment for ragweed with the prescription drug Ragwitek.

Ragwitek like Grastek should be taken 12 weeks before the allergen season.  In this geographic area the typical ragweed season begins about August 15.  That gives an estimated start date of the medication in mid-May.

Ragwitek is taken similarly to Grastek with pre-seasonal and seasonal administration or continuous administration for 3 years.

TRADITIONAL ALLERGY CARE

Many other treatments remain the mainstay for allergy treatment: Grastek4

Oral Medications:

Antihistamines

  • Cetirizine–Zyrtec
  • Diphenhydramine–Benadryl
  • Fexofenadine–Allegra
  • Loratadine–Claritin, Alavert

Decongestants

  • Phenylephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine

Leukotriene Antagonist

  • Montelukast Sodium–Singulair

Nasal/Ocular Medications:

Steroids

  • Flonase
  • Nasacort
  • Nasonex
  • Qnasl
  • Rhinocort

Antihistamines

  • Astelin
  • Pataday
  • Patanase
  • Pazeo
  • Zaditor

Decongestants

  • Ephedrine
  • Oxymetazoline–Afrin, Sinex
  • Phenylephrine

Cromolyn

  • Nasalcrom

Anticholinergics

  • Ipratropium Bromide–Atrovent

Nasal Irrigation

  • Navage
  • NeilMed
  • Neti-Pot

Avoidance:

While avoidance can be difficult here are some pointers that may help:

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high especially between 5AM to 10 AM when pollen counts are highest
  • Wear a mask when mowing or avoid mowing altogether
  • Choose grasses for your lawn that produce less pollen–dichondra and irish moss are some examples
  • Mow frequently to keep grass short
  • Keep windows closed
  • Avoid attic fans
  • Bathe pets frequently
  • Do not dry clothes outdoors
  • Minimize alcohol intake as it leads to dehydration and increased sensitivity to allergens

Another topic to come…How do I know what I am allergic to?

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare

Richer in More Ways than One…

Smoking Cessation

Smoking0No better time to discuss smoking cessation than when we are at the new year and resolutions are starting to fade while the freezing temperatures outside continue. I tell my patients that are contemplating smoking cessation that if successful they will be richer in more ways than one.   The health benefits of smoking cessation are clear.  The often overlooked benefits of smoking cessation are the return of significant time and money.

 

Health Benefits
  • Smoking4decrease in bronchitis, COPD
  • decrease in blood pressure
  • decrease in heart rate
  • decrease in ALL cancers
  • decrease in diabetes
  • decrease in osteoporosis
  • decrease in rheumatoid arthritis
  • decrease in erectile dysfunction for men
  • decrease in ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, small birth weight in pregnancy
  • decrease in second hand smoke decreases sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and asthma

 

Non-Health Benefits

We never seem to have enough of either time or money and smoking cessation recaptures both.timeandmoney

  • Money
  • Time
  • Time=Money

 

 

The actual cost savings can be calculated here.  The following depicts the savings realized when smoking 1 pack per day with a cost of $5.70 per pack:Smoking5The amount of time spent smoking is estimated at 6 minutes and 20 seconds per cigarette. Calculations for smoking 1 pack per day equates to over 2 hours per day.  Smoking7

If you extrapolate the value of your time then your costs rise exponentially.

Smoking Cessation Aids

So you are ready but want some help.  There are over-the-counter, prescription, and alternative options to help you be more successful.

Smoking8Over-the-counter options:

  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine lozenges

 

 

Prescription options:

  • Nicotine inhalerssmoking9
  • Nicotine nasal sprays
  • Bupropion is a common anti-depressant medication that was once marketed as Zyban. This medication can diminish the cravings and withdrawal symptoms from the nicotine.
  • Chantix is for smoking cessation only and can diminish the cravings and withdrawal while also blocking nicotine effects from smoking.

Alternative options:

  • E-cigarettes–long term safety has been unclear but recent studies identify significant concerns on safety and effectiveness
  • Hypnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Support groupsSmokingQuit

No better time than the present to kick the habit as you will be richer in more ways than one!

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare

Alternative Affordable Healthcare “Insurance” Option

 

The Alternativeaffordablecare

My patients often prove to be my best resource in providing patient-driven affordable healthcare.  A viable health coverage plan eludes many of us and often those with a plan quickly discover its shortcomings.  One of our earliest members at Direct Medical Care introduced me to a great alternative to healthcare “insurance”–health cost sharing plans that are truly affordable.  These plans have been around for over 20 years and I anticipate they will become more and more favorable with the current direction of healthcare.

Health Cost Sharing Plans
  • Health Cost Sharing Plans(HCSP) do qualify as approved health insurance coverage by the Affordable Care Act.  
  • The general philosophy is in line with Direct Medical Care’s as HCSPs “seek to return health care to a private, patient-centered model” and “(are) designed to restore and protect the doctor-patient relationship.”
  • Our patients using these plans attest that their experiences have exceeded their expectations.

Check out the following cost sharing plans:

 

samaritanSAMARITAN MINISTRIES

Samaritan Ministries was established in 1994.  Their focus is Christians helping Christians.  Not only are they focused on the financial burdens taken on by the community of Christians but the physical, emotional, and spiritual burdens as well.

 

 

MEDI-SHAREMedishare

Christian Care Ministries was established in 1993.  Their focus is on carrying each other’s burdens while utilizing not only financial resources but individual talents, networks, and their faith.

 

 

LIBERTY DIRECTLiberty-Direct-Logo

Liberty Direct was also established over 20 years ago and interestingly has the same share amounts today that they did when they began.   They focus on helping like-minded individuals who are committed to their individual health and well being of their community.

 

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Flu or Not to Flu

“I have the flu…”Flu3

Influenza strikes every year and leaves much to be discussed.  The flu statistics reveal that the highest risk groups are those 65+ years of age followed by those 0-4 years of age.  The other high risk groups include pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory illness or those with weakened immune systems.

Seasonal influenza is typically the following with rapid onset:

Flu2
Symptoms of Influenza
  • fever
  • chills
  • profound fatigue
  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore throat

 

Seasonal influenza is not typically:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Diagnosis

The only absolute is a positive influenza swab.  Unfortunately the test can children doctorbe inaccurate.  Some studies suggest the influenza swab is only 30% accurate while others suggest 70% accuracy. The best case scenario it misses 3 out of 10 individuals with influenza.  This makes clinical suspicion and evaluation by your physician key in diagnosis.

Treatment

Tamiflu or other antivirals are the only prescription form of treatment but have their Flu1limitations.  They need to be started within 48-72 hours of onset of symptoms. Antivirals when started early in the course of the illness can decrease the severity of symptoms and length of course but are not a cure. Large families or those with high risk individuals may opt to take antivirals as preventive or prophylactic care when a known influenza carrier has been diagnosed.

Supportive care is the true mainstay of care for anyone with influenza:

  • fluids
  • rest
  • acetaminophen

Flu Vaccine

There are always lots of opinions regarding vaccination.  While it is not a perfect vaccine as far as guaranteed coverage for influenza, it is safe.

Flu4The CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Vaccination is one way to protect yourself from influenza and can reduce the severity of illness if contracted and prevent hospitalizations in addition to doctor visits and time off work.

Common questions:

  • Does the flu shot cause the flu?

            No but can cause a flu-like response with mild headache, joint pains, and fever

  • How long until I am covered after receiving the vaccination?

           2 weeks

Common Sense Prevails

  • avoid contact with those with symptoms
  • wash your hands
  • eat healthy
  • exercise
  • rest

Stay well!

 

Ann Riggs, DO

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