Category: Addiction Treatment

Keeping Laboratory Costs Low

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10 May 2019

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is a new approach to family medicine and addiction medicine that creates the time and space your healthcare deserves. Beyond Primary Care is a Direct Care clinic serving patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

In this post I am answering a common question that I receive, and that is how does Beyond Primary Care (DPC) keep laboratory costs low for it’s members? Offering low bill rates for labs is a key feature of virtually all Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices, and is something that is done to increase the value of a membership. Just how low? Many DPC practices do in-clinic phlebotomy and can provide numerous laboratory studies to their patients at a tenth of the costs that many hospitals and fee-for-service providers can provide.

How DPC Practices Keep Laboratory Costs Low

To start DPC practices typically do their own phlebotomy (that is the collection of blood from your veins) and rarely bill for these services. This starts the savings before a single drop of blood is collected. DPC practices then contract with laboratory diagnostic companies, many times the same companies that service smaller hospitals or fee-for-service clinics. My clinic, Beyond Primary Care, uses a few laboratory diagnostic companies, Quest Diagnostics, True Health, and Aurora Diagnostics

Prior to drawing any labs for our patients, DPC practices negotiate what we call ‘client bill rates’ with these diagnostic companies. A client bill rates is basically saying, what is the lowest cash price for a particular laboratory study you can offer to my clinic’s patients? Compare this to smaller hospitals or fee-for-service providers. They bill for phlebotomy (U of M states they charge $9 for this service alone) and then these providers bill the labs through your insurance. Often times the laboratory costs often never negotiated down on behalf of the patient because there is no incentive from the practice to do this. 

DPC gets these low laboratory fees for their members in this innovative manner because our primary business is taking care of you and NOT being just a blood-draw center. Your membership for care to a DPC practice allows for this innovation.

Savings from Laboratory Costs

I have a colleague who recently had a pap smear completed, which is a diagnostic test used in females to detect cervical cancer.  She claimed she had ‘Cadillac Health Insurance’ through her employer, meaning basically she thought she had really great insurance that would cover the costs of her healthcare. Look at her bill below and what she was left to pay out of pocket. At my clinic, Beyond Primary Care, the procedure of completing the pap smear if part of the membership. No extra charges. The fee for the pathologist (that I have negotiated) is $44. The difference in costs in this ONE laboratory study alone would pay for months of healthcare at any DPC clinic.

DPC Members can obtain Labs other Doctors Order

DPC providers understand you may need to see another specialist from time to time, and these providers may want their own labs completed. A common question I receive is if the other specialist request labs, can I get them done through your clinic? 

Yes, absolutely this is another great way to minimize your financial impact. No doctor or hospital can force any patient to have routine laboratory studies done only at their location or where they tell a patient to complete them at. That is against the law. They may use convincing language saying ‘the results integrate into our electronic system faster,’ or ‘those other providers may not know exactly what I want.’ Stay firm and request a written and signed order for your labs. Your DPC clinic will complete the exact same labs, bill you at the much lower rates (compared had you used your insurance), and will promptly fax the results over to the requesting specialists that meet their needs. As noted by this Wall Street Journal article analysis of medical services, prices tend to be higher when services are performed in hospital outpatient facilitates instead of at doctors’ offices.

Improve Your Financial Health

admin

20 April 2019

Dr. Jeff O’Boyle with Beyond Primary Care teams up with Dennis LaVoy CFP® CLU® with Telos Financial to discuss ways individuals, businesses, and families can free up cash flow.

Neurontin, Gabapentin, Controlled Substance

Gabapentin as a Controlled Substance

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10 January 2019

This past Monday, 1/7/18, the state of Michigan classified Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) as a controlled substance (C V) as it has been increasingly been reported abused by some patients.

Gabapentin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain caused by shingles. That is it! However, as many people already recognize it is prescribed ‘off label’ by health care providers for various reasons including including depression, anxiety, migraine, fibromyalgia, muscle and joint pain, and bipolar disorder. According to some estimates, over 90% of Neurontin sales are for off-label uses. A report by IMS health found that 57 million prescriptions for Gabapentin were written in the U.S. in 2015, a 42% increase since 2011.

Many providers, including myself, have never screened for Gabapentin abuse in the past as this medication is not tracked by the state’s controlled substance tracking system nor is it typically detectable in most office-based urine drug screens. When Gabapentin is taken alone there is little potential for abuse. Yet, when taken with other drugs, such as opioids, muscle relaxants, and other anxiety medications, there are reports that Gabapentin can have a euphoric effect.

While I see the concern for making Gabapentin a controlled substance in Michigan, it is going to be a tremendous headache for everyone. The community, hospitals, treatment facilities, and doctor offices.

Isn’t it ironic that Michigan is locking up Gabapentin (which IS affordable and has good application when used appropriately) but legalizing marijuana?

It will eventually be easier for people to smoke a joint then get Gabapentin.

Currently, a month supply at Beyond Primary Care for 300 mg (90 pills) is $4.59. The street value for Gabapentin just went up because of this classification and that makes me concerned. Hell, the CDC lists Gabapentin as a non-opioid alternative treatment for pain control. This move by the State of Michigan makes my job as a physician, patient advocate, and provider certified in chronic pain management increasingly harder to deliver affordable and effective treatment to my patients.

Avoiding Resignation with Addiction

admin

30 October 2018

As an addiction specialist offering addiction services, I have yet to meet a patient who enjoys being addicted to drugs. Addiction is a chronic illness around which is a great deal of confusion, few people know what to do. Faced with someone who appears to be driving heedlessly into the abyss, families often fight, freeze or flee, unable to figure out how to help.

 

Consider the opioid epidemic. This month, this news organization estimated that more than 300,000 Americans will die of drug overdoses in the next five years. Why are health professionals and the government not acting on this knowledge? Tradition? Prejudice? Utmost stupidity? The answer is sometimes all three.

 

Often times we scroll the sidebar reading about the passing of great actors and celebrities, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Prince. But what about those who stray off course closer to home, who don’t get the huge publicity? The suburban middle-aged man, who is a credible business man and decorated community leader but passed from pancreatitis due to chronic alcohol use. Or the aspiring young woman who quietly finished her first marathon and worked unglamorously towards saving for her first house, but OD’d on heroin.

 

I can assure you that there is no as yet undiscovered riddle to these people, the disease of addiction recognizes none of these distinctions. It is indiscriminate, it is sad, it is irrational, and it is hard to understand. But what we should articulate, as I have outlined in this youtube video explaining my treatment of addiction, is that these deaths are unnecessary and something should be done. Fortunately, our brains are remarkably plastic. I know it is far easier said than done, but there is a way to find control and life without drugs. For those brave enough to share, recovery stories such as this are incredible and worth every effort.