Cori Then and Now…Transformation Tuesday

corimajor1-2corimajor2-3

Cori is an avid football fan and is loyal to our Kansas City Chiefs.  Last spring she set out on a transformation that has changed her life.

Not only does she look fantastic but she feels healthier and happier with her progress. She is a mother of three active children and is excited to be setting a good example for them by being healthier and taking care of herself.

Cori’s encouragement for others is to be prepared for hard work.  The results will not be instant and expect setbacks.  It really is about making small steps towards a bigger goal.

How did she do it?  Hard work.  Nothing compensates for hard work.  She began running and really watching her diet.  Her diet focus was not only about healthier choices but also portion control.   Cori has completed two half-marathons and has plans for more.

Go Cori and Go Chiefs!

 

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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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

 

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

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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Direct Medical Care’s Top Ten List

TopTenDirect Medical Care’s Top Ten Patient Experiences

1—“Dr. Riggs your glow is back.  You seem so happy!”

2—A patient gets access to care for $400.00 vs $2400.00 that literally saved his life

3—A patient is reimbursed $300.00 of his $500.00 annual membership with his first claim submission.  “I feel like I hit the jackpot!”

4—Access to CT scan for cash at $350.00 vs hospital quote of $3382.00

5—The proof is in the pudding:  a patient puts families expenses into a spreadsheet with previous year’s expenses and finds marrying his plan with our services would have resulted in over $7500.00 in savings in one year

6—Our Medicare patient not only gets it but loves our model–he knows how doctoring used to be and the true costs of using your health insurance

7—Wholesale drugs that offer convenience and lower cost of short and long term medications.  $140.00 for one month of blood pressure medication dropped to $28.00 for the same medication.   Annual savings of $1344.00.

8—“The nose doctor(AKA Dr. Riggs) is right next to sonic—that is genius!”

9—“I really feel like I should pay you more.”

10—Every time a patient says, “It just makes sense.”

Ann Riggs, DO

Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare
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“My Personal Experience with Direct Medical Care and Dr. Ann O. Riggs”

Background

EricCashinMy name is Eric.  I am a 48 year old male.  I have a history of chronic back pain, pre-diabetes,
recurring respiratory infections (at least annually) and many other miscellaneous health issues.  Last year I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and had a stent placed in a major artery in my heart.

Because of my long history of health issues, having a skilled medical team and good health insurance has always been important to me and my family.

So why would I change from a traditional insurance based primary care facility to a practice using the direct pay model?

Best Doctor but Direct Pay?

I first became a patient of Dr. Riggs in 2012 when she worked for a traditional medical practice.  I was impressed with her knowledge, skill, and bedside manner.  I was cared for as a friend not just another patient to be pushed through the assembly line.  When she left the practice and started Direct Medical Care, I panicked.

She is the best physician I have ever worked with but how could I afford to pay her direct without using insurance?

A Light Came On

I was motivated to find a way to continue to have Dr. Riggs be my doctor. I began to

EricCashin2research what I had been paying out of pocket, what my insurance options were and how I could incorporate the direct pay model.

What I learned opened my eyes to the true costs of medical care.  It was like I had been sitting in a dark room and someone turned on a light.

Oh… I Think I’m Going to be SickEricCashin3

Being someone who prefers to make decisions based on sound analytical processes, I undertook the task to run a comparison between what my out of pocket expenses were with the standard medical insurance model and what they might be by marrying a High Deductible Plan with a Health Savings Account and membership at Direct Medical Care.  This is what I found out:

Out of Pocket Expenses

Actual(Standard Medical)

$6918.65

Comparison(HSA & Direct Medical Care)

$1863.45

SAVINGS

$5055.20

EricCashin8
This realization hit me like a ton of bricks.  Not only could I afford to join Dr. Riggs’ new practice, I could have saved $5,000.00!

 

 

How Is That Possible?
  • Changed to a High Deductible Plan with an associated Health Savings Account (my coinsurance dropped from 15% to 5%)
  • Insurance automatically contributes $1,500 per year into the HSA
  • Added another $2600 in HSA contributions (offset from prescription drug costs and change in dental plan)
  • All co-pays, co-insurance, prescriptions and membership in DMC paid for by HSA
  • Insurance reimbursed 65% of membership with DMC (net cost for annual family membership was $350.00)
Here Are The Numbers

DMC Membership, deductible, copay, co-insurance and prescriptions covered by $4,100.00 from HSA (no net change in monthly costs).EricCashin5

●     Save $700 family deductible
●     Save $475 on copays
●     Save $875 on prescriptions
●     Save $3,000 on co-insurance

Total Projected Savings $5,050.00

Not Just about $$

In 2013, after Dr. Riggs left the traditional practice (prior to getting DMC open) I began to see another doctor in that practice.  While this doctor was very capable, the assembly line medicine forced on physicians in these corporations caused my heart condition to be misdiagnosed for 6 months.

EricCashin6After joining DMC in December 2013, Dr. Riggs was able to determine that the symptoms I was having could be related to heart disease.  Her office scheduled an appointment with a cardiologist.  The condition was found and a blockage in my heart was repaired.  A potentially catastrophic heart attack prevented.

How Have The Numbers Worked Out?

In 2014,  I saved $7,522.23 compared to what I would have spent out of pocket on my old plan (that does not include the money DMC saved me by shopping prices and negotiating on my behalf for 2 tests – an additional $3,600.00 in savings).

My experience may be extraordinary, however, I am convinced that any individual or family will benefit from the superb medical care and cost savings found through joining Direct Medical Care.

Conclusion

Not everyone’s situation will result in the same savings that I have found.  But here are some examples of how DMC may make financial sense for you:

  1. I don’t have an HSA option where I work.
    • You can benefit by joining DMC and saving on copays and coinsurance for primary care services.  Additionally, membership costs count towards your deductible or may be covered by your insurance.
  2. I am in good health and never meet my deductible.
    • Fantastic, consider selecting a High Deductible plan and save on monthly premiums.  Savings will offset membership or you can join as a “non-member” and pay for a la carte services.
  3. I have Obamacare with a high deductible plan already.
    • DON’T WAIT!  You can’t afford not to join.

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