Four Common Healthcare Myths, Debunked

Marla McLaughlin — September 17, 2020

As a doctor at Spira Care, I have the opportunity to treat patients from all over the Kansas City area. If you’re not familiar, Spira Care is an offering that was created for members looking to simplify and personalize their healthcare experience with the support of a Care Team. A typical Spira Care location offers integrated care, including primary care, behavioral health consultations, health coaching, routine lab draws, x-ray, and more, all in one place.

The medical profession is constantly evolving, and there are new insights on the job every day. In my 16 years as a physician, I have heard some reoccurring misconceptions about healthcare from my patients. I’ll be reviewing and debunking some of the most common myths about primary care to shed some light on the realities of healthcare and help make you feel more comfortable with your provider.

Myth: Google can diagnose my symptoms better than a doctor could.

Fact: Although the Internet can be a great research tool, the responses you’re going to get online when you type in a certain symptom tend to be the most-attention grabbing. For example, I’ve had patients who receive their lab results and see they have a low white blood cell count. When you plug this symptom in an online tool, many times the first thing you will pull up is leukemia which is of course alarming. However, it’s important to know your white blood cell count can also be low from an ailment as simple as a common cold you have had recently. Health is an individual, personalized experience, so only a doctor can diagnose you – not an online message board or symptom checker. Those are tools but they have limitations when you are talking about the context of the symptoms. I would encourage you not to panic if you Google your symptoms and instead, invite you to see a medical professional – in person or in a virtual visit – so we can figure out the cause of your symptoms together and prescribe treatment accordingly.

Myth: Doctors only see each patient for 10 minutes and don’t do anything else at their jobs.

Fact:  At Spira Care, we are given more time to spend with our members since short appointment times can be such a frustration for both patients and physicians. In addition to seeing patients, primary care providers spend time researching and staying up to date on the latest medical research and treatment since our type of medicine needs to cover a wide scope of conditions. Doctors also spend time on paperwork as well as making follow-up calls to patients about their lab results and referrals. I also look to be proactive by working with my care team to reach out to high-risk patients who haven’t come in for a check-up based on the latest data on which populations are most likely to have health issues.

Myth: I don’t need health insurance because I never go to the doctor and I feel healthy.

Fact: Although it’s great to hear you feel healthy, without health insurance you can be missing out on important, life-saving preventive services. The National Center for Biotechnology found avoiding medical care may result in late detection of disease and reduced chances of survival. We have expert methods that can detect and intervene with possible diseases, and the only way for us to find out whether you need additional care is if you come in for a check-up. For example, with simple bloodwork, we can detect whether someone has prediabetes, and if that’s the case we can help you lower your blood sugar and prevent you moving into the next phase of diabetes. You can read our past blog post about why you need a primary care provider on The Blueprint.

Myth: A primary doctor can’t treat my behavioral health challenges.

Fact: Behavioral health doesn’t just impact the mind – it impacts the body, too. There is almost always both a physical and behavioral aspect to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  Addressing just the physical or just the behavioral will not have the same outcome as addressing both simultaneously.  I know managing your behavioral health during times like these can be stressful, so reading our blog post about how to manage your behavioral health during a crisis may be helpful to you. Also, I want to let you know that you’re not alone in facing behavioral challenges. Behavioral health challenges merit a visit to your doctor just like a physical health issue would.

Blue KC has made treating behavioral health a priority with the launch of Mindful by Blue KC, a set of new and enhanced behavioral health services that features expedited access to care, 24/7 Mindful Advocates, workshops and more. Visit MindfulBlueKC.com for more information about how to use these services, which are included with Blue KC coverage. I encourage all members to take charge of their health. Blue KC covers a full range of preventive services. If you’re a Spira Care member, you can find your nearest Care Center on our website and even make an appointment online. Otherwise, search our Provider Directory to find a primary care provider who accepts your Blue KC health insurance plan.