• Rob LaHayne

Simple As P-C-P

Part one of our three-part series on ways consumers play a role in reducing healthcare costs.

Healthcare is a complex issue with a lot of problems, but if there’s one thing most people agree on, it’s that healthcare is too expensive. We’ve been debating the issue for over a century, and still haven’t come to an agreement on a solution. Much of what drives the costs can actually be out of the members’ control. More than 60% of Americans experience a chronic disease, which is the leading cause of death and disability in this country. We are sicker and more politically divided than ever, leaving little hope for improvement.

So, what does that mean for your healthcare? Premiums may still be high, coverage may not go as far as you’d like it to, and the system isn’t likely to get much simpler to navigate anytime soon.

In fact, many pundits have dubbed our system as “sick-care” instead of healthcare. An overarching complaint about the American system is that it is designed to fix problems rather than prevent them. While there is some truth to that, patients inherently have to play a more active role in preventing healthcare issues.

One thing everyone can do to save money and spend less time interacting with the healthcare system: see your Primary Care Physician at least once per year. By seeing your PCP on a regular basis, you’ll be better prepared to live a healthy lifestyle, catch issues that may arise early, and reduce your chances of chronic disease -- all of which reduce your costs and amount of time you spend dealing with the healthcare system.

Recent data suggests that adults in the U.S. are visiting the primary care doctor at a rate of 25% less than they were in 2008 and the number of folks who don’t go at all has grown to 46%. Using our own sample of more than 10,000 members at TouchCare, we found that people who visited their PCP at least once in the previous 24 months consumed, on average, $700 less per year on healthcare.

It can be hard to keep up a healthy lifestyle with so many stresses, pressures, expenses, and options for how to treat any given problem. These days, it’s common to see wearable devices or fitness trackers. You’ve probably heard of numerous diets, fads or trends -- some of which you may have even advised people to try without having done so yourself! All of those things might help in some way, but there is no more proven cost-effective way to manage your health than having an active and regular relationship with your PCP.

At the end of the day, there is a huge amount that consumers can’t control when it comes to healthcare in America. The one thing we can control is managing our relationships, and there’s no better one to maintain than one that could save you money, and possibly, your life.

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