Wow. Two pieces of good health care news in two days. Imagine that.
Today, I called Washington Health Benefit Exchange, also known as Washington Healthplan Finder, also known as wahbexchange.org. In less than five minutes I learned that I didn’t have to do anything about signing up for coverage in 2019. It took me more time to get through the voice mail menus than it did to talk to a real person who expertly found the quickest way to access my account, even though I’d forgotten my password. Shocked, shocked I was (really, she confirmed that she could hear it in my voice) that I didn’t have to do anything. Another bit of good news was that their ridiculously overly-secure password system has been replaced with something simpler and more permanent. All I have to do is get home, find the old password, and change to a newer, easier one. All of this happened from a quick call to their office from my office on a Saturday. It was in the middle of a break in my real estate shift that I noticed their help desk was actually open on a Saturday – for only twenty more minutes. I called, and was off the phone in enough time for her to repeat her performance before the end of her day. Impressive; especially, considering previous years’ experiences.
The day before was also a bit of good health care news. I visited my doctor, Molly Fox, ND, a naturopath. OK, so it isn’t like I’m suddenly phenomenally healthy; but coming up on 60 years old it is nice to hear that things aren’t as bad as I expected. Hey, everything’s relative. My diabetes has abated. There’s a long list of things for me to do; but most of it is in my control. Diet, exercise, and meditation are powerful tools. She’d appreciate it if I used a few more; but we agreed that I’d take the cheap route for a while. Maybe after a few more deals close I can step up the effort. Until then, stress relief and more exercise as feasible considering my work schedule. (Real estate takes a lot more time than most folks ever witness.)
That good news wasn’t the end of the good news. I’m also benefiting from her, really their, new service. She and her office partner, Dr. Kovscek, have instituted a Direct Primary Care practice. For $70 per month (for me in my situation), I get something so radical and innovative that it resonates with the style of care I recall from fifty years ago. (From their web site🙂
- “a direct relationship between patient and doctor”
- “Longer appointments, 30-60 minutes with each patient”
- discounted supplements and services
- convenient consultations, even if that’s over the phone
- No extra cost for in-clinic procedures
- and a list that goes on for two pages.
Getting rid of the folks in the middle dramatically drops the cost, increases the available time to talk, and greatly reduces the anxieties I feel around more traditional healthcare facilities. (Want a glimpse of those? They inspired my walk across Scotland, which inspired my book, Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland.)
It can sound weird, but health care can be friendly, calm, and casual. The ability to have regular monthly appointments means progress can be measured more often and with smaller expectations. Rather than waiting a year for a ten minute conversation to check on weight gain or loss, strength increases or decreases, or general mood changes, every month is an opportunity to spend up to an hour talking about successes and hurdles, as well as how they interact. People are individuals, not statistics, and our messy bodies appreciate individualized attention particularly when it comes to putting them back into balance.
Pardon me as I take a break to pour myself a cup of green tea.
Ah. I’m back.
You may have noticed an apparent contradiction. I’m happy (or at least relieved) that I have insurance while also celebrating a subscription to a service that exists because it doesn’t follow the modern model that relies on insurance. It feels like the transition between using energy from fossil fuels while installing solar panels. The new way seems to be the way to go, but at least for a while, it makes sense to have a bit of both. If I was in a car crash and whisked to the emergency room while unconscious my first coherent conversation with the staff shouldn’t be having to describe an innovative and positively disruptive health care philosophy. I’d give them the name of my insurance company and the name of my naturopath. Debates about corporate influence on basic necessities would wait a day.
The service is new enough that; “*Enrollment fee waived for current patients if enrolled by November 30, 2018.” Molly has been my doctor for over a year, so I got to sign up early. This notice may be a short one, but considering typical health care costs, the enrollment fee is relatively small. Adding my conventional insurance payment to the subsidy I receive from Washington Health Benefit Exchange adds up to a monthly cost that exceeds my yearly costs from Direct Primary Care. I’m glad for Washington Health Benefit Exchange. I couldn’t afford insurance otherwise. Thanksgiving was two days ago and I give thanks that I’m finally financially able to have a bit of both, and the extra chance at a healthy life that they provide.
Now, to make sure I get home early enough to make something from the leftovers, get in some exercise, and rest and relax in front of a movie. But first I’ll check my real estate calls and emails. Something has to pay the bills, besides, it can be fun finding people houses. Stay tuned.