Thursday, December 8, 2011

Priorities and Paradigms

Since moving back to Calgary I've been without a dentist and I would really like to find one.  It is certainly not that there is any shortage , but I have had so many bad experiences with dentists in the past that I have to admit that I'm overly cautious.   This is one example why networking is so important.  I find that when people can put a face to a name, and then be reassured and in agreement with my approach towards patient care, it makes a big difference towards building a practice. 

However, one obstacle I've encountered on several occasions recently is price.  "You know I'd really like to see a naturopathic doctor but you are so expensive."  And, some ND's certainly are.  However, I believe the priorities of our society and individual paradigms may be more responsible for this perception than actual price (influenced no doubt by socialized heath care - which I'm thankful for in the case of an emergency). 

My wife came home last night after getting her hair cut and styled.  And, she was $110 more beautiful!  Also, several weeks ago I got Canadian Tire to put my winter tires on rims.  That was $167 exchange just for the labour alone.  That is more than the cost of my 1 hour new patient appointment!  I found out that Canadian Tire charges a basic shop rate of $115 per hour and raises this to $125 per hour when there is any electrical work involved.  And this work could be done by a 19 year old mechanic.

Just to clarify, I am very happy for any 19 year old who has worked hard to become a mechanic and I recognize the responsibility of ensuring an automobile is safe on the road.  However, this is not a health care provider.  So, is it unreasonable to expect to pay 25 to 50 percent more per hour for a naturopathic doctor than a mechanic?(1.)  

I believe that since people are accustomed to conventional health care being free in Canada, it requires both a paradigm shift and a change of priorities to get over the inhibition to pay for health care.  However, when conventional medicine has been unsuccessful in helping with a particular health concern we may need to ask, what do we value more: our car, haircut...etc, or health?

(1.) I should add that if someone came to most naturopathic doctors and really could not afford to pay, and that person was not spending $110 at the hair stylist, most would gladly work something out in that case.