What Kind of Healthcare Provider Should I Get?

There are many kinds of healthcare providers to fit your needs. Even if you are not planning to use Western medicine on a regular basis, it would be a good idea to establish a primary care doctor in case you need care. You can choose a general practitioner, family practice doctor, or internist as your PCP. These providers generally bill insurance. If you are uninsured, the average cost of a primary care visit is $180.

You may also choose a doctor that provides Direct Primary Care. This is a movement in which doctors don’t bill insurance, but instead offer a membership plan similar to a gym membership where you pay a monthly fee and then can use the facilities as often as you like during the month. The monthly fee is usually between $50 and $80 depending on the area of the country you live in. This is a great option for those who are unable to get insurance. To find a provider in your area, click here.

There are many other kinds of providers you can utilize as well.

Naturopathic Physicians – Naturopathic doctors diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them. ND’s do not prescribe drugs unless they are also licensed MD’s. Most insurance does not cover naturopathic visits, but may cover some medical testing.

Chiropractors– Chiropractic is the third largest healthcare specialty after medical doctors and dentists. They focus on structural and neurological disorders. They use spinal manipulation as well nutritional counseling and a variety of other modalities. They mainly deal with trauma caused from injury, lifting heavy objects or the strain of repetitive movements. Click here to find a doctor. Some insurance does cover chiropractic.

Certified Clinical Nutritionists – registered dieticians and clinical nutritionists often practice in the same areas, but their practice is subtly different. Dietitians’ training and practice revolves around foods and eating patterns. CCNs’ training is focused less on specific foods and more on the nutritional values they represent, and how the body’s tissues use those nutrients. The dietician might try to get you to ear according to the Food Pyramid or My Plate guidelines. The clinical nutritionist will be more interested in analyzing your nutrient needs and designing an eating plan to provide them.

Midwives – Midwives assist women in giving birth, and provide prenatal and postnatal care. You may choose from Certified Nurse-Midwives or direct-entry midwives. Some midwives practice only in hospitals. Some attend home births as well. Some insurance will pay for nurse-midwifery care. Most direct entry midwives practice on a cash only basis.

Acupuncturists and traditional Chinese Medicine – Acupuncture is the Asian practice of inserting small needles into the body to regulate the flow of energy along energy meridians or pathways. It is most successful at mediating chronic pain conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine is aimed at balancing the body’s energies through nutrition, herbs, tai chi and qigong.

In my own case, I have a direct primary care doctor, and have Medicare and Humana for emergency and hospitalization needs. I have also used chiropractic for back problems, a direct entry midwife for home birth, and a certified clinical nutritionist for general healthcare advice. I have a medical condition requiring one prescription medicine ( which I am in the process of trying to get off) and so can only get that from a licensed physician.

You shouldn’t feel that you have to confine yourself to only one kind of provider. Many traditional and complementary therapies can be combined. On the other hand, some medical treatments do interfere with the body’s ability to heal itself. Do plenty of research so you can make an informed choice.

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