The country is in the midst of a monumental healthcare debate. Physicians like me treat individual patients, not populations. Thus this note of caution is meant for you, the individual who now must determine what health insurance plan best suits you and your loved ones. This blog in no way addresses the merits or lack thereof of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I have been a practicing Cardiologist for over twenty years. During that time, my practice has run the gamut from intervention to prevention. Although it would be hyperbole to say “I have seen it all”, my varied experience has afforded me the opportunity to participate in the most intimate and meaningful aspects of a great many patients’ lives during so many different types of medical trouble. I have also myself unfortunately been a patient with life-threatening ailments on more than one occasion. To say I am an expert in the medical arena is therefore not hyperbole.
Now that many Americans must examine their health insurance with a new perspective I want to raise a single note of caution: When choosing your plan, always look to the future. It is one thing to keep your current doctor; that is indisputably important. Possibly even more consequential though is the fact that many of us ultimately develop complex, serious, and even rare medical disorders. We do this “in the future”, and to make matters worse, we never know when the axe will fall. Sadly but irrefutably we are all vulnerable to this fate. When this occurs, patients invariably and appropriately want to “see the best”. To do so often requires long trips to a variety of places in America (as an aside, it is ALWAYS in America where you will find “the best”). I have patients and loved ones who have traveled to Nebraska and Texas for the treatment of Lymphoma; Sloan Kettering for Neuroblastoma and other cancers; the Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian, the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic for Cardiovascular issues; and many other centers of excellence for a host of other ailments as well. Every time patients travel afar to see the experts they do coordinated research with their physicians in order to identify the doctor and institution best suited to manage a particular condition. This is always a difficult and emotionally challenging task. Now consider this. The majority of plans under the ACA do not have contracts with most of the aforementioned hospitals. In fact, it is my understanding that perhaps the finest cancer center in America is not on ANY of the ACA plans. So, when choosing your health insurance, please focus on what you don’t know. Give the future as much attention as the present. Being unable to see a true expert to treat the disease you have not yet developed (but sadly will most likely afflict you or your loved ones at some point in your life) would be a catastrophic event. Buy your plan with your eyes wide open. Know what you’re getting for now, as well as for the days that lie ahead.
Please read more about preventive cardiology at www.preventivecardiologyinc.com.