Functional MedicineGet to the root cause of medical problems
Functional Medicine FAQ
Why do we need Functional Medicine?
- Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders.
- The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented towards acute care or symptom management. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
- Unfortunately, the symptom management approach to medicine lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating complex, chronic disease much less achieving optimal health. In most cases it does not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or factors such as environmental exposures to toxins and the other aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society.
- Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of complex, chronic disease and to apply strategies to treat and prevent these illnesses in their patients while helping them to achieve their optimal health.
How is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. Hallmarks of a functional medicine approach include:
- Patient-centered care. The focus of functional medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting optimal health beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
- An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body and spirit) and external (physical, social and environmental) factors that affect total functioning.
- Integrating best medical practices. Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention. Data is obtained through the use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques. A comprehensive plan is then prescribed for the individual patient which may include hormonal balancing, medications, botanicals, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, and stress-management techniques.
Why we do not accept in-network Insurance assignment
Ageless Wellness Center has chosen to bill out-of-network insurance assignment or accept cash payment. While we fully understand the financial challenge this presents to some patients we have chosen not to bill in-network insurance directly for the following reasons:
- When clinics bill insurance companies as an in-network provider, the doctors are required to become participating providers. The doctors must sign a contract that allows the insurance company to determine which services they will and will not provide, and how much they can charge for those services. In general, insurance companies are not focused on any preventative or wellness services. They are heavily invested in the conventional model of health care that too often relies on drugs and surgery. We are committed to the functional medicine model that addresses the underlying causes of your symptoms with specific nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.
- An in-network participating provider must agree to accept the fees the insurance company establishes, regardless of whether the fees are reasonable or applicable to that practice. In general, these established fees cover the actual cost of the briefest (and we believe the lowest quality) care. Doctors who are participating providers are required to accept discounted fees for their services. Therefore, the clinic must write off the difference, often as much as fifty percent or more of the doctor’s fee for service. Our office cost to provide high quality care has increased dramatically over time, making this a very difficult situation. You may be aware but in today’s health care environment, the actual cost for doctors to provide services continues to rise, while the percentage of reasonable fees that insurance payments cover is declining.
- Most doctors and clinics cope with the requirements of being participating providers by keeping their office visits very brief, so that they can see many patients within a given timeframe. When the clinic becomes unprofitable, it will need support from another institution. Most primary care medical clinics are not self-sustaining financially, and have had to merge with hospitals whose expensive high-tech surgical and diagnostic procedures are priced to keep the clinics afloat.
Ironically, some of our patients complain about their extremely brief office visits in other medical practices, while at the same time expressing frustration that we do not accept insurance. Unfortunately, we have found that we cannot stay in-network with insurance and provide the time-intensive, well-researched, expert care that you will get at Ageless Wellness Center.
Why We Charge For Follow-Up Consultations
Some patients have asked why we charge for follow-up consultations regarding lab results and exams, as well as for telephone consultations.
In follow-up visits, our providers spend significant time discussing your results with you. For example, it is relatively simple to inform a patient that her mammogram is negative; but it is entirely different to discuss the results of more complex functional evaluations and to recommend practical lifestyle and dietary strategies that may help to prevent breast cancer. We want you to understand that preventative health care takes considerable time and expertise on the part of the doctor.
About the Charges for Our Doctors Services
Some patients may have the mistaken impression that our doctors take home the majority of the fees we charge for their services, and that the doctors have a great deal of leeway to offer discounts for those fees. In fact, our doctors take home only a fraction of the fees collected for services. This is because a clinic like ours requires trained staff and expensive professional continuing education. The majority of our fees support the overall mission of providing high quality natural health care, not the doctors’ paychecks. Our doctors have chosen this work because it is their passion and their calling, and certainly not because it is a way to make a lucrative income. In fact, most medical doctors who choose to practice functional medicine know that their income will be substantially lower than it would be if they were practicing in a more conventional manner that is fully supported by the health care reimbursement system.
Why We Sell Nutritional Supplements and How
We Price Them
We recommend nutritional supplements as an adjunct to dietary and lifestyle modification. This approach is central to the well-researched and science-based practice of functional medicine, which all of our professional staff have studied. We sell therapeutic quality pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements as a service to our patients. We purchase high-quality nutritional products that are often only available through a physicians’ office. We price them to cover our costs of providing them and try to keep the cost to our patients as low as possible.