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Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Find a Doctor to Help You Prepare, by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

Original Article

Last week I received disturbing news from a reader.  His physician was ready and willing to help him prepare for a protracted sailboat cruise.  He planned to be gone several months, and requested medicine to take along, just in case he or his family became ill – sounds reasonable to me.

However, before the doctor wrote the prescriptions, the practice manager stepped in and vetoed the idea.  Turns out, the doctors were salaried, hence subject to the constraints of their employers.

In thinking back to my earlier article on SurvivalBlog (How to Get Your Doctor to Help You Stockpile Medicine), I did not address the issue of what sort of doctor is likely to help survivalists with their preparations.  However, this point is worth discussing, especially if you have been turned down.

The following are five things to consider in finding a physician to help you prepare for an uncertain future.
  1. Age.  Young doctors are not thinking about the end of things. Their careers and family life are just beginning.  With medical education and residency extending to thirty years of age or more, even at forty doctors are still paying off loans and getting started with child-raising.  Psychologically, doctors (as well as patients) in this age group are little focused on a crumbling future.  However, doctors age 50 or more are more likely to see the American economy with some historical perspective, and are therefore much more likely to be genuinely concerned – and hence more likely to assist in prepping.

  2. Faith.  If a person’s only acquaintance with Armageddon is via the movies, they probably have little understanding of Biblical prophecy.  Not that Christians are the only ones to see the writing on the wall, but a person who has studied the book of Revelation is more likely to believe the world may come to an end in our generation – the first generation with the capability of destroying civilization.  It’s not that difficult to know where your doctor stands.  Look for telltale wall hangings, or quotes, or magazines, or simply ask.

  3. Independence.  More and more doctors are becoming salaried employees.  With this comes responsibility to the group, the corporation, the practice manager, etc.  The majority of doctors also have contracts with insurance companies, who audit their charts periodically.  (You may not know that your personal records are subject to these audits, but they well may be, whenever someone else is paying the bill.)  Independent fee-for-service doctors currently “enjoy” the most freedom to practice as they like (often at the price of decreased income).  Also, independent physicians are more likely to think independently.

  4. Size.  Group practices are becoming the norm for many reasons, the largest being economic concerns.  Solo practitioners and two-physician partnerships are becoming non-viable, and doctors are selling out to larger corporations at a record rate.  However, there are still a few “dinosaurs” around, mostly doctors who have been in practice a number of years, and who are “riding it out.”  These docs may not be taking new patients, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re willing to pay cash. Solo practitioners are much more likely to be of the independent mindset, per above.

  5. Politics.  What does your doctor think about our country?  Does he agree with you when you profess fear for the economy?  If not, why would he help you prep? Lots of doctors (at least primary care doctors) feel the economic pinch.  Those who don’t may not believe a crisis is imminent and hence be less sensitive to your concerns.
If your doctor is young, wealthy, and part of a group practice, odds are against a prepper mentality.  Look for someone with a few decades under his or her belt, maybe someone who drives a 10-year-old car, and goes to church.

Lastly, even if you have medical insurance, you are permitted to contract privately with your doctor for uncovered services (if your doctor is willing).  You would need to ask your doctor ahead of time about arranging a private consultation and paying for this apart from your insurance. (Editor's Note: Dr. Koelker is SurvivalBlog's primary Medical Editor, the author of the popular book 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care. She is also the Editor of

1 comment:

  1. If you are on Medicare your doctor cannot contract privately with you. He cannot charge you a different price. His only choice is to take you with Medicare or refuse you. I think this might also be true with other federal programs such as Medicaid and Tricare.