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Buyer Beware

Have you ever heard the saying, "You get what you pay for"? I know I have. What does it mean? And is it true? And why am I reading about it on a physical therapy blog?

Once upon a time, things were made of quality. They were designed to last. However, someone came along and started to figure out how to cut corners, to make things cheaper, to make more profit. The item gets cheaper but so does the quality- hence "you get what you pay for". Don't expect something to last if it didn't cost you a little something.

Is it always true that if something cost you a little more that it will last longer or be a better product? No, not necessarily. But there is a higher expectation.

So does this apply to the medical field? I mean, after all, we have insurance that helps us to pay those kinds of expenses. So does pricing matter? Yes and no.

If your health care provider is an in-network provider with your insurance company this means that your insurance company dictates what they will pay your provider. It could be different from another provider as well. So one clinic may get a check for $150 for their services to you and the clinic 1/2 mile down the road may get a check for $100 or $200. There is also very little that a provider can do about it, very little negotiation. They either agree to the terms or choose not to take that insurance.

This also means that your provider is getting a check from your insurance company no matter what your outcome. The more they see you, the longer they see you, the more money they get. This also means that regardless of your satisfaction, they still get paid. This can be a slippery slope to live on for a healthcare professional. At some point, they may lose sight of your well being if your insurance company pays well. This also means that if your insurance company doesn't pay as well, you may get double-booked. Have you ever been to a PT clinic where your therapist had more than 1 person at a time, 2...3? That is not quality care. That is an attempt to capitalize on more money and your insurance will pay even if you are with 4 other people. Now, some clinics make the effort to have a "tech" help with care- but if the "tech" is leading you through all the exercises, ask yourself why you couldn't do that at home? Maybe you wouldn't. Another question to ask, is what qualifications does your tech have? In some cases they are athletic trainers so they are more than qualified. Sometimes they are high school students. But the insurance is paying the clinic as though you are working with your therapist the whole time.

I believe all healthcare workers begin their career paths because they want to help people. I see nurses, PTs, and OTs at the top of the list. They truly care.

Just because someone cares though doesn't make them good at their job. Not all healthcare providers are good. Period. Let's look at another job profession: car mechanic. They have all have the training and certification to fix your car. But what do you do when you have an issue with your car? You go to social media and the internet to get recommendations and check ratings! Why don't you do this with your healthcare providers? There are so many with poor ratings yet people still choose to go there. Why? "That's where my doctor sent me". You as a patient have the right to choose who you want to see (within the realms of insurance, if you use it).

This is where insurance has flawed our medical system. Frankly, it dictates too much. Of course, I still have it. Being able to get wellness checks, physicals etc at no cost is awesome. But in my opinion, it has lead to doctors and clinicians overcharging and overseeing patients to make the money they want to make. In time, this leads to poor quality of care. I know some of you have waited hours in a doctor's office to only be seen for 10-15 minutes. Some of you may have been seen for 20 visits at a PT clinic with little to no improvement but that was just your doctor's advice (keep going). Some doctors own those PT clinics- so guess who is getting paid if you "keep going".

My long soap box point is this: not all healthcare providers are equal as not all lawyers or plumbers are equal. Make sure they have your best interest in mind and that they are listening to you! It is your body. Yes they may have the experience and education but YOU know what YOU are feeling.

Don't be afraid to avoid using your insurance if it means you get better faster or get higher quality care!

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