1 min read

The American Health System

It's the end of the year, the time when you realize you have to get your annual doctors' appointments and not waste the insurance.

I have two problems:  
1) How do you find a doctor?
2) Insurance is impossible to navigate.

Problem 1

I want a doctor to give the tests that I want and contextualize them. I want a doctor to not interrogate me why I want the tests. I want a doctor to be open to the newest technology. I want a doctor to help me navigate the insurance companies.

In other words, I'm looking for Dr. Peter Attia.  But he lives in Austin and he's not taking new patients.

Dr. Attia wrote an essay on how to find a doctor.  He says to look for four criteria: advocacy, affability, availability, and ability. He also gives ten questions to ask to see how well a doctor fulfills these criteria. The only problem is, I've never been able to get a doctor on the phone before becoming a patient. Dr. Attia was developing a directory of doctors, but he never finished that project.  Any advice in finding a doctor would be welcome.

Problem 2

Navigating health insurance in America is frustrating.  You usually don't get billed for a doctor's visit until months later, after you've forgotten what happened.  You're then presented with a bill that is always higher than expected, with illegible billing codes.  You spend weeks arguing with the doctor's office and insurance company over how much you actually owe.

Problems I've had with insurance:
1) Annual physicals are covered unless it finds something, in which case it becomes a doctor visit.
2) If a doctor's office tells you that a procedure is "covered by insurance" this means that insurance could pay for as little as 1% of the bill and this would still count as "covered."
3) Coverage may depend if a doctor codes a test as "preventative" (covered) or "diagnositic" (not covered).
4) You have separate medical insurance and vision. Opthalmologists take medical, optometrists take vision. Annual visits are only in vision plans.

Anyone else have frustrating experiences with the health system?