Why I Gladly Pay for Alternative Medical Care

October 22, 2013 at 3:42 PM 6 comments

stethoscope

When my son was younger he developed torticollis, (tight muscles on one side of his neck), which caused his poor little head to lean to one side. I asked the doctors about it at each of his visits, but they never seemed to pay any attention to my concerns. They’d tell me to place toys on the opposite side of his crib or play area and to give him lots of tummy time. I did all of those things and his problem continued.

Finally I took matters into my own hands and searched for a physical therapist who specializes in the care of infants. (What did people do before the invention of the Internet?) My insurance company covered some small portion of each session’s total, but only after I paid my entire deductible for the year. Initially I took him twice a month and paid $140 for each visit. When I switched insurance companies my deductible rose to $3,000 a year. Needless to say all of my visits now are paid for out of pocket.

At each visit the therapist spends sixty minutes looking over my son’s body. She asks him to reach for things with both hands, walk, run, kneel and play with toys. She listens to the progress in his verbal communication and stretches out all of the muscles in his neck, arms, shoulders, torso, legs, knees and feet. If she feels tension in a particular area she performs a few stretching exercises and when necessary employs craniosacral therapy to help even things out.

Thanks to therapy my son’s torticollis was corrected long ago, but every six months or so I still take my son back for an evaluation. At this point his therapist seems more like a relative than a medical care provider and even when a long time passes between visits my son still warms right up to her.

When I tell people that I take my son to a physical therapist they often give me strange looks. They ask if he has any medical problems and I tell them that he doesn’t. I just want someone to pay close attention to him as he grows and develops, which usually elicits another strange look.

I don’t like doctors. I have plenty of reasons for disliking them, but in general I think they have too many patients to keep up with these days.

When I take my son to his routine medical appointments the doctor spends very little time actually looking over his body. I have plenty of time to ask questions, but the overall body scan probably takes less than two minutes. That includes looking into his eyes, mouth and ears. The doctor certainly doesn’t take any time to listen to him speak or to watch how he moves his body when he walks, runs or plays.

I’m sure the doctor feels no need to check these things out. After all parents would speak up if they noticed something or had any concerns, but what if parents don’t know what to ask. I have moderate scoliosis that could have been corrected. Unfortunately, in my case doctors just didn’t spend enough time paying attention to my growth and my parents didn’t realize my scoliosis would create lifelong pain and problems for me.

For now I will gladly pay a physical therapist $75 to evaluate my son. I hope that nothing major will ever turn up, but it gives me great piece of mind to have a second set of eyes watching over him while he grows.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Newlyweds on a Budget  |  October 22, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    perhaps you just need a better doctor? When I first had HMO I hated it because I met with my doctor for the first time, she spent five minutes with me and that was it, she couldn’t even prescribe me anything. I switch to PPO and LOVED my doctor. For financial reasons, we had to switch back to HMO and I’m worried but everyone I’ve talked to said I just had a bad first doctor. Everyone else who is in the same medical group that I will be in has had positive experiences. SO I hope it works out.

    Reply
    • 2. One Frugal Girl  |  October 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      I agree that certain doctors are worse than others, but overall I’ve found very few doctors who really take the time to look at their patients. I’ve dealt with my fair share, roughly 30 in a six month period, and only one of them took the time to really look and me and ask questions. 1 in 30 is a pretty disappointing number. If you find a doctor you really like stick with them!

      Reply
  • 3. Kevin Watts @ GraduatingFromDebt.com  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I have bitter experience with HMO. Never been satisfied with the doctor and service. I would suggest you to change your doctor.

    Reply
    • 4. One Frugal Girl  |  October 23, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      It’s very difficult to find good doctors these days. I think the best thing you can do is advocate for yourself and be very specific when you have symptoms. Don’t say something hurts, say I have a throbbing pain, a sharp pain, etc. Unless you are perfectly clear in what you expect and what you feel very few of them can help you. In my son’s case this is one of the best pediatricians we’ve found so far. We’ve dealt with a few others who were even worse!

      Reply
  • 5. Lauren  |  October 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    My kids’ pediatrician is a little neurotic and a lot of people don’t like her because a basic well visit can easily take an hour, but that’s why I like her. She is very thorough, and I feel like she really listens to me as a parent. She also had the extra testing done that diagnosed my friend’s son’s leukemia, when other doctors just kept saying he had a cold or sinus infection. I will gladly give up an hour of my time every few months in case somethng like that would happen to us.

    My daughter has been in physical therapy though Early Intervention since she was one, and the therapisst have been so great. I think a lot of it is that doctor’s just want a diagnosis, but the therapist is the one who actually shows you how to fix the problem. My daughter ages out of the program in a few months when she turns three, and we will be looking into private therapy at that time. (She will still likely get therapy at school/daycare, but I want to be able to see/learn what the therapist is doing so I can help at home.)

    Reply
    • 6. One Frugal Girl  |  October 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      Excellent point Lauren. A general doctor or pediatrician is looking for a diagnosis, while a therapist, acupuncturist, etc. is looking to correct the problem. I hadn’t actually considered that. I also recognized that a physical therapist is looking specifically at muscle and skeletal issues, she doesn’t look in my son’s ear, nose and throat :) I think all doctors, therapists, etc serve a specific purpose but I just feel like generalists don’t spend much time with kids. I’m so happy to hear that your pediatrician is not the same as mine. Do you by any chance live near DC? Maybe I could try yours out :) Also, I completely agree on learning the therapies at home. That helped my son immensely!

      Reply

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