Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘health care cost’

Most Powerful Documentary You’ll Ever Watch

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Many of you may have heard about a recently released documentary called, “Doctored.” I finally got to see this video within the last couple days and I have to say… I was much more impressed than I expected to be. Most often, documentaries are produced with an agenda and/or a message in mind, and this one is no different. However, too often those documentaries fall extremely short in actual data and truth in reporting. I’m happy to announce that this is NOT one of them. Although there is a good deal of anecdotal stories, this documentary had a ton of statistically verifiable evidence in support of the underlying message. Many of you that know me, know that I’m not an “Anti-Med” chiropractor. Yes, I’m natural first, but I recognize that there are times and conditions that warrant concurrent pharmaceutical intervention. That said, this documentary is essential watching to anyone interested in true “health care” as opposed to “sick care.”

I want to thank Dr. Mercola for making this video available for free on his website for a limited time. Watch it now, before it’s taken down. Once it’s taken down… it’s worth the few bucks to order a copy on DVD.  Keep your eyes peeled, because I’m sure it will be available on pay-per-view at some point, too. Here is the link to the free video on Dr. Mercola’s site: Click here to go to Dr. Mercola’s site with the free video.

– Dr. Gray

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Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health, Other Pain Conditions, Political, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Many Chiropractors Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, March 28, 2011

So… how many chiropractors does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one… but it’ll take you 40 visits! Although comical, jokes like this come from a general basis of some perceived negative. Does it really take forty visits anytime you need chiropractic treatment? Of course not. However, there is another perception about chiropractic that contributes to the above joke: Once you start going to a chiropractor, you have to go forever.

Is that true? Do you have to go forever if you begin seeing a chiropractor? The answer, again, is of course not. I’ll be the first to admit that I understand the frustration with the concept of multiple visits associated with chiropractic treatment. The fact remains, though, that we can’t fix twenty years of abuse and neglect with one adjustment. The number of treatment visits that will be required for each individual case is dependent on many factors. An individual’s history of injuries, surgeries, sports, genetics, occupation, exercise, weight, diet, hobbies, etc. all play a role in the amount of treatment necessary. The length of time that a particular condition has been developing is also extremely important when trying to design a treatment plan. Every aspect plays a role in determining reasonable expectations for the amount of care necessary to optimize outcomes.

Perhaps more, but at least as, important than the above factors is: What are the patient’s goals? If all the patient wants is to “feel better,” then a couple appointments may be all that is necessary. But, keep in mind that how things feel is not always a good indicator of how things really are. Did you know that the most common first symptom of heart disease is… death? There are tons of people walking around with severe heart disease or cancer who have no symptoms and think they’re fine. In the same sense, your spine and nervous system has an inborn ability to adapt and compensate for dysfunction in an effort to decrease symptoms. Think about it… from the time we learn to walk, our parents teach us how to ignore pain. “Shake it off… be tough… work it out…” From nearly day one, we are taught to ignore our symptoms! The end result is that we ignore the warning signs that would allow us to fix a problem while it is small and easy. Ultimately, by the time the body has lost its ability to compensate any further, the patient enters my office and says, “I’ve only had this pain for three days.” Well, actually, you’ve had this dysfunction for much longer, but your body finally gave up three days ago.

If the patient’s goal is resolution or long-term improved health, then physical pain or symptoms are only a small part of our rationale for care. Obviously, our first goal of treatment will be to minimize and/or get rid of the pain. After that, we dig a little deeper to determine what led to the dysfunction in the first place. While continuing care and retraining the body to work and function differently than it has adapted to, we begin planning out any rehabilitative care or lifestyle changes that may be necessary. This could include regular stretching and/or exercise at home, dietary restrictions, supplements, physical therapy, ergonomic changes at work or home, etc. Beyond that, again, it depends on the patient’s goals. If you wish to keep your teeth and keep them healthy, you regularly brush, floss, use a mouth rinse, and visit the dentist a couple times per year regardless of symptoms. These visits are primarily check-ups so that the dentist can discover potential problems before they become big problems. A little cleaning, a good check-up, some advice on home care, and they can usually send you on your way. However, if you’ve not been taking care of your teeth, whether by the lack of maintenance or by abusing them with sugary foods, then the dentist may have some work to do. If you’re seeing him a couple times per year, then he can catch these problems early and there is much less treatment and cost involved. On the other hand, if you’ve neglected these problems for some time, the damage may be much worse, increasing the amount of treatment and cost involved with your dental care.

In the same fashion, if you wish to remain physically active with a healthy and strong body, you must regularly exercise, eat properly, reduce stress, get plenty of rest, and visit the chiropractor once in a while regardless of symptoms. The same examples from our dental analogy above apply here. If you’ve taken care of yourself, there is often very little for the chiropractor to do, but this gives an opportunity to catch problems before they escalate. If you’ve abused or neglected yourself, there is a good chance that your problems will involve more treatment and costs associated with your care. Either way, dental or chiropractic, you’re going to need us sooner or later. You can either take care of yourself and see the dentist regularly… or you can wait for your teeth to fall out. In the same sense, you can either take care of yourself and see the chiropractor regularly… or you can wait until you need surgery. – Dr. Gray

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Herniated/"Slipped" Discs, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Does Your Insurance Pay For Oil Changes?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, July 20, 2009

Last time, we talked about the importance of maintenance care and the role it plays in keeping your car from breaking down. We also discussed how this same level of care and respect needs to be extended to our bodies. If you change the oil in your car, or do a tune-up to avoid potential problems… how much more important is it to do the same for your body?

In most states, we are now required to carry automobile insurance. Even with “full coverage,” we understand that this is for unexpected, unearned, and excessive costs. If you’re in an accident, insurance will cover your return to pre-accident status. Car get stolen? Insurance will help you replace it. Tree fall on your car? Auto and homeowners insurance will make good. However,… does your insurance pay for an oil change? Does your insurance cover tire replacement? What if you need a new battery? Need a front end alignment… does insurance cover that?

No? Why not?… Because that’s not what it is for! Insurance, as mentioned above, is for unexpected, unearned, and excessive costs. General maintenance is not unexpected. It is not unearned. And the cost is not excessive. General maintenance is an expected necessity due to the normal affects of normal use. One could argue that many repairs are not covered by insurance because they don’t meet these three requirements. If your alternator quits working, it may be unexpected when it happens but it has been earned by use over the many miles and hours the engine has been running; and the costs are not excessive to have it replaced. If your brake pads wear out, that is expected, earned… and again, the costs are not excessive. Transmission faulty? Both unexpected and can be cost excessive, but you’ve most likely earned (meaning caused) that trouble. Therefore, it’s not covered.

So who pays for these costs that are not covered by your auto insurance? You do, of course, and you pay it willingly because you know it keeps the car doing what you’d like it to do. Insurance will be there if you are in an accident. You will be covered if your car is stolen. Warranties (another form of optional insurance) cover you if something goes wrong within a certain time frame, but again, only if those problems are unexpected, unearned, and have excessive cost… and you pay more for the warranty. In fact, some things may be covered by your insurance, but you still may choose to pay anyway because it doesn’t exceed your deductible. And… if you submit those costs to your insurance plan, you know they’re going to raise your rates.

Health insurance and your responsibility for your own health-related decisions are no different.

If it’s so important to cover these auto expenses out of your own pocket, why is it so difficult to place that level of importance on your health care decisions? Think about it. When you need a general check up, why should you expect your insurance to pay for it? If you do expect them to pay for it, you realize that you are paying more in higher premiums than they will ever cover in general costs, right? If you need treatment for a mild sinus infection, are the costs “unearned or excessive?” If you work in the yard all weekend and throw your back out, do you refuse to visit your chiropractor if the insurance doesn’t cover it?

Furthermore, when you submit general/simple/ordinary expenses for reimbursement, your insurance company uses that information against you to raise your premiums and justify “the rising cost of health care.” While reimbursements go down, premiums go up, and coverage diminishes, you’re getting less and less for your insurance dollar… all because you didn’t want to cover a brief office exam.

What’s you best alternative? Sign up for a low-cost, high deductible catastrophic coverage insurance policy with an attached tax-free health savings account. Your costs stay low, you’re covered if anything serious happens, and you pay for your own general health care with pre-tax money. What’s even better? Your doctor’s office will love you, because they know they’re getting paid now… without all the billing expense… and without the wait. In fact, most health care facilities I know offer a 10-25% discount for paying at the time of service. Need a little more care than you can pay right now? Most offices will let you make payment arrangements, and you pay them out of the health savings account which saves you a bundle on your income tax.

Don’t kid yourself… universal or government-provided health care won’t fix this problem. The real rising cost of health care starts with our individual expectations that someone else is responsible for it.

Posted in General Health, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When Government Plays Doctor

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A good friend of mine posted a wonderful piece recently that I felt worth reposting here.

This week, concerns about swine flu have dominated the media and many government officials. While the American people should be made aware of infectious diseases and common sense preventative measures, much of the hysterical reaction from government only serves to remind us how detrimental to your health it can be when government plays doctor.

As a physician, I have yet to see any evidence that justifies the current level of alarm. Influenza typically kills around 36,000 people every year in this country and hospitalizes a couple hundred thousand. So far there are only a handful of confirmed deaths attributable to this strain, and most of those sickened have or will fully recover. Every death is tragic, but I see no reason to deal with this flu outbreak any differently than we typically deal with any other flu season. Instead, government in its infinite wisdom is performing even more invasive screening at airports, closing down schools and sporting events, and causing general panic.

We had a similar outbreak in 1976, with only 1 death from the flu, but mandatory vaccinations killed at least 25 before the program was abandoned.

When government gets involved in healthcare decisions, the cure is so often worse than the illness. And yet, this administration will likely consolidate the government’s power over your health with sweeping new reforms that are already being discussed in the Senate.

Government has not improved healthcare, and has not made it cheaper. Quite the opposite; costs have skyrocketed, and quality has gone down in many ways. Gone are the days of the country doctor making house calls, or of voluntarily giving away medical services at charity hospitals. The bureaucratization of healthcare these past 45 years has made things worse. It saddens me as a doctor that physicians are less and less accountable to patients, but more and more accountable to government red tape, insurance companies and attorneys. It seems so perverse to me that important medical decisions that will directly affect the lives of all or nearly all Americans are being hashed out behind closed doors in Washington rather than between doctors and patients.

There is perhaps nothing more valuable to a human being than his or her health, which is why I’ve always considered the practice of medicine so crucial to our well-being. Any intrusion by government into the privacy and trust between doctor and patient is detrimental to the art of medicine. It distorts the whole dynamic of who the client really is when doctors must answer more to government or insurance companies than to their patients. The best solutions to improving quality and lowering costs of healthcare would be measures that put decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors, where they rightfully belong. I have introduced HR 1495 The Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act, which promotes health savings accounts and tax deductibility of healthcare costs as an important step in this direction.

The unfortunate reality of this recent health crisis, as with any crisis, is that it presents opportunities that the unscrupulous will take advantage of, while the fearful become more compliant.

Wow! Pretty profound… yet truthful… statements. I wonder if we can really understand and take to heart what he has said. Let’s break it down, huh?

  1. Although tragic, the swine flu situation is being blown out of proportion for ulterior motives
  2. That motive involves more government control over your health care decisions
  3. Increased government involvement has actually caused the rise in health care costs over the past 45 years
  4. Increased government involvement has also led to a decrease in the quality of care provided
  5. You and your interests are becoming less and less important with the expanding role of government

When are we going to wake up? How far must government go before you learn that they do not have your best interest in mind?

A couple years ago, there were outcries because The Patriot Act was seen as an invasion of privacy and freedoms. Yet, when the government proposes to take total control of your health care decision making ability… nothing. What was the most complained about provision of The Patriot Act? Wiretapping of overseas phone calls. Phone calls… oh the outrage! But now… they want control of YOUR PERSONAL ABILITY TO MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONSand nothing???

Partisanship is not only detrimental to individual and collective good, it is also STUPID. Wake up people. Take a whiff of that crap they’re shoveling before you swallow it whole.

Posted in General Health, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Your Health Is No Longer Your Choice

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am relatively dumbfounded right now. As part of this latest act of socialism from our federal government, they have completely done away with privacy and freedom with regards to health care. DID YOU HEAR THAT AMERICA? One of the most basic and cherished privacies we have enjoyed… the freedom to guide and direct your own healthis gone.

Yes. Slipped into the Porkulus bill, is an entirely new bureaucracy in Washington known as the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. Sounds beneficial, huh? Yeah… let’s coordinate information. But wait. What does that really mean? Well, there are so many ramifications to this we’re going to have to look at them one by one:

  1. Mandates that all medical records will need to be kept electronically. – While this sounds good on the surface, this is just the start of the nightmare. Requiring electronic records means that several hundred thousand health care offices around the country, from medical doctors to dentists to chiropractors down to rural nurse practitioners, will be forced into a huge financial investment in new computers and software in order to comply. Think that’s all? Nope… don’t forget all educational institutions that have any health-related program. Who do you think is going to pay for this? The doctors? The hospitals? NO! WAKE UP! Those offices, hospitals, doctors, and schools will just raise their prices to cover the new expense… so you pay for it.
  2. Mandates access to those medical records by the federal government. – Yes, now that all of your health care information and secrets are in electronic form, the government wants access to review them any time they want. How would you like the government knowing all the details about your drug rehab? Or alcoholism treatments? Abortion? Sexually-transmitted disease diagnosis? Pregnancy status? Blood test results? But, why would they want this information?…
  3. Establishes a new federal bureaucracy that removes doctor or patient choice and discretion. – Although the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology sounds harmless, its true purpose is to monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. Now, don’t miss it… did you really read what that sentence said? They want to “monitor” your treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems “appropriate and cost-effective.” In other words… it does not matter what you want, or what your doctor recommends… you are going to do it their way, or else. According to Tom Daschle, who’s book these policies are based on, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.” What’s meant by “or else?”…
  4. Establishes penalties for non-compliance. – Doctors, health care offices, and hospitals who are not “meaningful users” will be subject to penalties, fines, injunctions, and/or charges. “Meaningful users” is not defined in the bill. That definition and the increasing stringency of enforcement will fall to the Secretary of Health & Human Services. So, if you decide that you don’t want to do what some bureaucrat in Washington says you should, good luck finding a health care practitioner that will provide an alternative because he faces fines, loss of license, or even jail. Wooo hooo… hooray for slavery! Isn’t socialism fun? Now… can you imagine a politician sticking their neck out and being the one responsible for denying and rationing health care? Of course not, so… What penalties will your doctor face, and who will make these “tough” decisions that elected politicians won’t?
  5. Establishes another expensive bureaucracy known as the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. – The goal of this new group is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. In other words… Punishment and rationing of care will be meted out by this group so the politicians won’t be associated with their decisions to place their cost savings ahead of your health.

Do you realize this Porkulus bill allocates more funding for these bureaucracies than for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines… combined? There is nothing “stimulating” about these new provisions. But, why would they stick something like this in a “stimulus” bill, you ask. Well, in 1994, Tom Daschle supported President Bill Clinton’s failed massive health care overhaul. He said the main reason for failure was “debate and delay.” In other words, when people actually sat down and talked about it, they realized that not only could we not afford it, but we didn’t want it and it would not be the best option for the citizens of this country. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.” So… the people be damned, we need to sneak this in before anyone can actually figure out what we’re doing.

Congratulations, sheeple. You’re getting the unintended consequences of what you voted for. Land of the Free… right. Home of the Brave… where? The American populace isn’t brave anymore. Neither are they free. Newsweek’s cover article this week states, We Are All Socialists Now. It’s not an discussion or article that even hints that this goes against everything The Constitution stands for… it’s an article saying that we are all socialists now… and anyone who opposes it better fall in line. I found this quote particular telling: “The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.” You get that? The sooner you understand where you truly stand… There you go. Where do you truly stand? Newsweek has made it clear where they stand. They choose bondage. They’ve relinquished their freedom. They will capitulate to the almighty federal government at their own peril. No longer free… no longer brave…

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America.

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Voice For Chiropractic Patients

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, January 26, 2009

The American Chiropractic Association has established a new website and organization to bring chiropractic to the people on a grass roots level. This new group is called ChiroVoice, and we all need to sign up in support of this endeavor. As our country moves in new directions, and the new administration is considering a more active role in the health care arena, we need to ensure that our representatives know what we want and need.

Through this chiropractic advocacy network, we will be working to ensure that:

  1. Congress does not restrict your access to essential chiropractic services
  2. Congress does not limit your coverage for chiropractic services within Medicare
  3. Insurance and managed care companies do not deny patients’ access to the essential chiropractic services they need

Membership is free, and will only help to protect your rights as a chiropractic patient. Please take two minutes and sign up for this worthwhile cause. Click on the logo below, and it will take you directly to the sign-up page.

Please Click Here To Support Chiropractic!

Please Click Here To Support Chiropractic!

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

America… the best country money can buy.

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, December 29, 2008

I love this country… let’s get that straight. Know what I love about this country? The freedom to affect our own governance. A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Unfortunately, that fact has been lost, abandoned, or bastardized by nearly every member of our current federally-elected representatives.

The people have no bearing on political direction… well, not exactly… we have relinquished our control. We have allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking the government actually cares about the people. Our forefathers knew the corrupting influence of money and power and designed The Constitution for the protection of the people and the states… from the federal government. Now, however, we are promised “hope and change,” and assured that the government will take care of us. We’ve gone from JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what you can do for your country,” to “Gimme… buy my vote… whaddya gonna do for me?… I shouldn’t have to pay for that, the government should give it to me.”

Here’s the truth… If you’re on the government tit, someone else is going to decide when and on what you feed. You are no longer free. This past election year, I was disgusted by both sides of the aisle vying to sell their vote for the most government cheese.

Our government is now based solely on the whims of the highest bidder. Control based on paid advertisements drives the networks to tell you the news they want you to hear, in a way that makes you believe what they want you to believe. Lobbyists in Washington finance the election and re-election campaigns of representatives in order to influence the voting habits of those representatives. The American public sits in their recliner bought on credit from Nebraska Furniture Mart and lazily wonders how else they can get something for nothing… and the politicians, like marketers, are jockeying to buy the most votes. If they can’t get it legally, they just cheat. It’s pathetic.

Want some proof that our government doesn’t give a crap about you? Proof that you’ve been bought right along with your representatives in Washington?

What were the big issues in the past election? Health care… insurance coverage for all… drug coverage… energy… big business bailouts… the real estate market… and schools. Okay. There are the issues the politicians and news agencies told you were important this election cycle.

Now, here is the list of the top ten lobbying groups for the past ten years:

  1. Pharmaceuticals/Health Products – $1.5 billion
  2. Insurance – $1.1 billion
  3. Electric Utilities – $1 billion
  4. Computers/Internet – $820 million
  5. Business Associations – $745 million
  6. Education – $727 million(excludes money from teachers’ unions, so this figure should be much higher)
  7. Real Estate – $696 million
  8. Oil and Gas – $687 million
  9. Hospitals/Nursing Homes – $649 million
  10. Miscellaneous Manufacturing and Distributing – $613 million

Wow! Look familiar? Let’s see: health care covered by #1, 2, and 9; energy covered by #3, and 8; big business bailouts bought with #4, 5, 7, and 10; real estate covered by #5, and 7; and schools covered by #6. Looks like that about covers it, huh? Congratulations… you’re a pawn. A bought-and-paid-for commodity who is blind to reality. You were so intensely interested in Obama versus McCain, that you failed to notice that neither will be different from the other.

America… the best country money can buy.

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Study Reveals Chiropractic Care Actually IS More Cost Effective

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From: Arch Intern Med 2004 (Oct 11); 164 (18): 1985–1892 Antonio P. Legorreta; R. Douglas Metz; Craig F. Nelson; Saurabh Ray; Helen Oster Chernicoff; Nicholas A. DiNubile

Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, Calif

BACKGROUND: Back pain accounts for more than $100 billion in annual US health care costs and is the second leading cause of physician visits and hospitalizations. This study ascertains the effect of systematic access to chiropractic care on the overall and neuromusculoskeletal-specific consumption of health care resources within a large managed-care system.

METHODS: A 4-year retrospective claims data analysis comparing more than 700,000 health plan members with an additional chiropractic coverage benefit and 1 million members of the same health plan without the chiropractic benefit.

RESULTS: Members with chiropractic insurance coverage, compared with those without coverage, had lower annual total health care expenditures ($1463 vs $1671 per member per year, P<.001). Having chiropractic coverage was associated with a 1.6% decrease (P = .001) in total annual health care costs at the health plan level. Back pain patients with chiropractic coverage, compared with those without coverage, had lower utilization (per 1000 episodes) of plain radiographs (17.5 vs 22.7, P<.001), low back surgery (3.3 vs 4.8, P<.001), hospitalizations (9.3 vs 15.6, P<.001), and magnetic resonance imaging (43.2 vs 68.9, P<.001). Patients with chiropractic coverage, compared with those without coverage, also had lower average back pain episode-related costs ($289 vs $399, P<.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Access to managed chiropractic care may reduce overall health care expenditures through several effects, including (1) positive risk selection; (2) substitution of chiropractic for traditional medical care, particularly for spine conditions; (3) more conservative, less invasive treatment profiles; and (4) lower health service costs associated with managed chiropractic care. Systematic access to managed chiropractic care not only may prove to be clinically beneficial but also may reduce overall health care costs.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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