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Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve never been to an integrative medicine physician, it’s natural to wonder what to expect on your first visit. The following will hopefully help to dispel any fears that you may have.
On your first visit, your physician will need to assess your health needs in a variety of ways in order to determine the nature of your illness and the best way to go about treating your problem. He or she will review your current health care routine and medical history, which includes past and present medical problems, surgeries, and hospitalizations. Your physician will want you to specify information about medical problems that affect or have affected relatives such as your parents, siblings, grandparents, and children.
Your physician will inquire about prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking, as well as all vitamins, herbs, and other nutritional supplements.
They will also ask about certain lifestyle factors that could be affecting your health. These may include:
- Alcohol, drug, and tobacco use
- Amounts of exercise and physical activity
- Dietary habits
- Occupational exposures to such hazards as asbestos, solvents, and lead paint
Your physician may perform a routine physical exam. Most of the time, this is as simple as checking your blood pressure and pulse, looking in your ears and eyes, and measuring your height and weight. He or she may order specific laboratory or diagnostic tests to more thoroughly identify your health needs. Tests may include, but are not limited to, analyses of functional nutrient, trace mineral, antioxidant, and amino acid levels, as well as a full blood panel that may give valuable clues in the diagnosis of a multitude of medical conditions.
After your examination, your physician may suggest various therapies such as herbal or homeopathic remedies, medication, referral to specialists as needed, relaxation techniques such as yoga, massage, and mediation, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, dietary changes, and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, among many others. While these various approaches to health and healing differ widely in their philosophical basis and treatment plan, your physician will strive to recommend remedies to boost your immune system, promote overall well being, and prevent reoccurring illness, focusing on treating the underlying cause of your condition instead of just the symptoms.
What to Bring to Your Appointment
To enable your physicians to properly evaluate your condition, please bring the following items to you appointment:
- Prior medical records and consultations from other physicians who have evaluated your medical problem should be brought with you to your appointment.
- A complete list of the names and dosages of any medications and supplements that you are taking. It is recommended that you bring the medication and supplement bottles with you if possible.
- If you have heart disease or other health issues for which you are undergoing treatment, elsewhere, please bring a recent summary from your cardiologist or other physician.
- Your insurance card.
A checklist for your visit
- Completed patient questionnaire (either the online version or one received at the visit).
- Medical records you have with you.
- Medical records release form (either the online version or one received at the visit).
- Insurance card (If applicable).
Length of Initial Visit
Please allow 1-2 hours for your appointment. Your physician will spend as much time as needed to ensure appropriate assessment and understanding of your care. Please prepare for possible delays with the assurance that you too will have the time you need with your doctor.
What to expect on your initial visit
As our patient, you will receive the finest consultation assistance and medical treatment from our physicians, nurses and technicians. These individuals have special skills and training that make them an important part of our patient care team.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed to the Center by one of our friendly front desk staff. Please sign in and give them the forms you have completed. If you have not completed them, they have extra copies available. In addition, there may be a few other papers for you to complete depending upon your medical needs. The front desk staff will help you with them as needed. Once the paperwork is done, please return it to the front desk staff.
As the next step, one of our Medical Staff will then take your vital signs including weight, temperature and blood pressure. Please let the staff member know of any special needs or concerns you may have.
Upon completion of the preliminary work, you will then meet with the physician in her/his office for a confidential discussion, and a physical examination in the examination room, as needed. This is an in-depth evaluation and discussion and typically takes about one hour. Unlike some physician visits which are short and take only 10 minutes, our physician’s goal is not just to address the symptoms of your medical needs and give you medication. Our physicians work to identify the root cause of your medical problem so we can eliminate it forever (if possible) from your body. This is why the visit takes so long.
Upon completion of the discussion and examination, the Physician will give you a "Protocol Sheet" summarizing the findings and a proposed plan of action. The plan of action may include blood, stool urine, testing, recommendations on supplements, prescriptions, next steps, etc. This protocol will depend upon your specific medical needs.
Insurance and Costs:
The initial office visit typically costs between $400 to $500 depending upon the complexity of your case and the time it takes. Testing and other costs are in addition and may be covered by your insurance.
INSURANCES: PPO Plans: The good news about seeing an MD is that if you have a PPO plan many of your medical expenses including your medical costs at our office may be reimbursable by your insurance company. For example, BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) PPO pays up to 80% of the cost of the office visit and 100% of the cost of blood, stool and urine testing.
If, for example, you are part of BlueCross BlueShield PPO at the 80% reimbursement rate and your policy allows for reimbursement at our billed rate, then out of the initial office visit cost of $200 to $400, you will receive back $160 to $320 from BlueCross BlueShield PPO, making your out of pocket cost $72 for the first visit.
In addition, all testing costs (which may be $1,000 or more) will cost you $0, as they will be paid directly by your insurance company to the testing lab. Please keep in mind that your insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company and the reimbursement will vary from insurance company. We would encourage you to check reimbursements with your own insurance company by calling the 800 number on your insurance card.
OTHER INSURANCES: HMO Plans: We are not part of any HMO network. Most HMO plans will not cover costs for out-of-network physicians.
If cost is an issue and you have a HMO Plan, to minimize your medical expenses, we would encourage you to consider switching (if possible) from a HMO plan to a PPO plan before starting treatment.
HOW DO I PAY? We take most major credit cards, cash, and checks. You will pay the Front Desk staff at the end of your visit.
HOW DO I GET REIMBURSED BY MY INSURANCE? At the end of your visit, the front desk staff will give you a receipt as well as a "Form 1500". You, would then mail the "Form 1500" to your insurance company to be reimbursed for the costs. The amount of reimbursement will depend upon your individual contract with your insurance company.
HOW DO I TAKE A TAX DEDUCTION FOR MY HEALTH CARE COSTS? Health care costs are deuctible on Schedule A of your 1040, Income Tax Returns. Please keep track of your receipts and deduct these costs as directed on the form. . For patients in the 30%+ tax bracket, this is a significant tax refund amount to offset your health care expenses.