True or False: Holiday Health Myths

The holidays are here, and something that’s on a lot of people’s minds is food and health. Does turkey actually make you sleepy? Does sugar make kids hyper? Are the holidays really the most stressful time of the year?

We sat down with Healthcare2U’s co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Rodriguez, to ask him if he thinks these holiday health “myths” are true or false.

Turkey makes you sleepy- FALSE

We’ve heard this theory numerous times, but it is, in fact, false. Tryptophan, the chemical in turkey that people are referring to that causes sleepiness, doesn’t make you sleepy on its own. What does make you sleepy, however, is when you eat foods that contain this chemical and a large number of carbohydrates. This includes carb-heavy foods like bread, desserts, potatoes, etc. So no, you won’t fall asleep if you eat turkey on its own, but if you add a whole Thanksgiving meal on top of it, you might need a nap!

Sugar makes kids extra hyper- FALSE

Research shows that while some people may believe children experience a “sugar rush” where they become hyperactive, studies show that is not the case. Doctors have surmised that the extra energy is due to emotions of excitement, not from extra sugar in their system. Having said that, it is still not advised to give children large amounts of sugar at once, as it isn’t healthy!

The holidays are the most stressful time of the year- TRUE

Unfortunately, this myth is very true. Most American adults – 74 percent – say that Christmas is stressful, and 55 percent say it is the most stressful holiday of the year. A large percentage of the stress is due to the extra money spent, preparing one’s home for guests, and spending time with family.

Here are some suggestions for people who find themselves stressed around the holidays:
  • Make sure you’re planning ahead and keeping everything organized, as the holidays can easily become chaotic, and that adds to the stress.
  • Keep track of holiday spending- overspending is a large part of holiday stress.
  • Take time for yourself. Take some deep breaths and maybe do a hobby that you enjoy to take your mind off any stress you might be experiencing.
  • Ask for help if you need it!
  • Limit your drinking. While some people drink around the holidays to help relieve stress, it can make it worse.

Were you surprised by any of these myths? We hope you enjoyed us debunking some classic holiday health myths, and if you’re interested in learning more about how to manage holiday stress, check out our blog from the last holiday season or a WAFB-9 News interview Dr. Rodriguez was featured in.

Ask Dr. John Part 3 – A Physician’s Journey into Direct Primary Care

Why are physicians making the decision to switch to a Direct Primary Care (DPC) model for their practice? In part three of our three-part blog series, Healthcare2U’s Dr. John Rodriguez shares why he moved to a DPC model and some hesitations he had before the switch. Don’t forget to check out our first blog in this series, which discusses the benefits of working with this type of model, and the second, which discusses “bad debt” for physicians and why some are moving over to the DPC model.

Q: What excited you about DPC enough to begin your practice?

A: Many years ago in San Antonio, Texas, I started a traditional fee-for-service clinic. I became a preferred provider on the main commercial insurance plans and began to see patients under those contracts. After filing claims, I noticed that the payments were rather low. I felt that for the time I spent with patients, I was not appropriately reimbursed, if I was at all. I also began to notice a great deal of bad debt. Many insurance companies were not paying the bill, and I had to spend a lot of time on the phone trying to find out why. Having those struggles as a practitioner, I began to deal with the true frustration of running a practice. I saw many of my local physician friends struggle and eventually close their practices. I knew that this could be in my future as well, but I was really set on trying to keep my clinic open and continuing to take care of patients at all costs.

Several years ago, the DPC model began to show up on my radar through the internet, web searches, etc. There were a few physicians here in San Antonio who were beginning to do it. Although their price points were much higher, I felt that I could do the same thing at a much lower monthly cost and take care of most of my patients without them breaking the bank and allowing me to keep my doors open. This new DPC practice was leading to very satisfied patients and was creating a lifestyle that I was happy with.

My practice was not driven by how many patients I could see in a day but by quality and cost-effectiveness because many of these patients either had no insurance or had high deductibles. Everything they had to pay for came out of their back pockets, so I had to be very mindful of the cost impact they would experience with prescription medications, testing, etc. That journey has led me to a place where I firmly believe the DPC model works. It’s made for every primary care physician, and if possible, they should adopt this model in some form or fashion in their practice.

Q: What are the hesitations physicians typically have when starting a DPC practice?

A: As you can imagine, the horror stories that many physicians and residents hear of having their own practice have dissuaded them from having a private practice clinic. Many become employed with hospitals or insurance companies, and most become very unhappy being just an employee. The thought of starting one’s own practice leads to hesitation because of a fear of the unknown; “how do I do it? What do I do? Whom do I talk to?” All that can frighten many away from DPC, but I believe if you do your due diligence- if you read about it and talk to other physicians who are doing it- you develop your own model, it can be done. Seek out good legal counsel to make sure that everything is appropriate with what you’re going to do. If you have the desire and the drive to make healthcare better and do what’s right for the system, you will be successful and, I believe, have a quality of life and a practice that most physicians would dream of.

Healthcare2U’s DPC program is changing healthcare

As mentioned in the first blog, DPC is growing in popularity because of its benefits to physicians and patients. In addition to those benefits, Healthcare2U’s DPC focuses on the benefits for employers, helping them contain their healthcare costs. Now offering even more benefits than before with our new Direct Primary Care advantage (DPCa) product, you’ll see why Dr. John and many others agree DPC is a growing trend that’s here to stay.

With DPCa, you’ll receive:

  • $0 visit fee for annual physicals and labs
  • $0 visit fee for unlimited in-person acute care
  • $0 visit fee for unlimited in-person urgent care
  • $0 visit fee for unlimited in-person chronic care
  • $0 visit fee for 24/7 virtual care
  • Concierge and patient advocacy through our Patient Advocacy Line (PAL)
  • Nationwide footprint of physicians ready to provide quality care

DPCa advocates for preventative care to lower costs for employers and keep employees happy and healthy. With our PAL, employees are also guided through every step of their benefits and have a bilingual medical professional who will triage and book their appointments, so they’re never left to figure out their membership alone.

If you’re an employer or broker and would like to learn more about Healthcare2U’s DPC memberships, check out some of our other blogs or contact us.

Ask Dr. John Part 2 – The Struggles Physicians Face While Working in a Traditional Care Model

Figuring out the right model of care for you is something physicians can struggle with. There are pros and cons to both, but studies show the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is rising in popularity. In part two of our three-part blog series, Healthcare2U’s Dr. John Rodriguez shares why he thinks physicians are distancing themselves from the traditional fee-for-service care model and some of the “bad debt” they can carry. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t forget to check out our first blog in this series, which discusses the benefits of working with a DPC model.

Q: Why are physicians interested in moving away from fee-for-service care to direct primary care?

A: Currently, the majority of clinics operate under the fee-for-service arrangement with insurance companies. In other words, we see a patient, submit that visit to the insurance company, they reevaluate the charges at a significantly reduced rate, and if we are fortunate, they send a payment to us maybe 30 days later. Unfortunately, those payments have not kept up with the pace of medical inflation. Over the years, many physicians have had to leave health care altogether or become employed by hospitals or insurance companies.

Some practices have adopted a DPC model, which involves receiving payment from either the employer or individuals for healthcare services. Payments can be structured as monthly memberships, or individuals can pay per visit. Considering many high deductible plans, it makes a lot of sense to engage a physician practice under a DPC model because that’s going to, in the long run, save money and keep you healthier because you have meaningful and quality time with the provider.

There are different types of arrangements that can be made through hybrid models. This can be a combination of partial insurance payments and/or a membership payment in addition. All this helps to lower the cost of health care and improve the time spent with patients, which improves patient satisfaction as well as physician satisfaction.

Q: Can you talk us through the “bad debt” that many physicians carry?

A: Bad debt is one of the many struggles physicians have suffered with for years, and if it’s not dealt with properly, can break a clinic. That debt is made up of two components: insurance companies not paying their bills or patients not paying their share of the bill. Ultimately, it’s the physician or the clinic who goes unpaid. To try and overcome it, physicians must hire more employees to try and capture that bad debt – you would hope and think that we shouldn’t have to do this. Unfortunately, debt collectors do exist in society, and it’s even more problematic in health care because we have a battle of wages against insurance companies, which are never nice to independent practices. Again, bad debt will make or break a clinic, and to be able to be paid for your services is extremely important.

Stay tuned…

Make sure to stay tuned when we feature our third and final blog with Dr. Rodriguez, where we discuss how he started his journey of working in a DPC practice. For more information on Healthcare2U’s Direct Primary Care membership, check out some of our other blogs.

One Size Fits All Health Insurance Plans Are Failing Your Employer Groups. Here’s Why.

While the cost of goods and housing continues to rise, so does the cost of healthcare. The cost of other necessary items has increased, such as groceries rising 20 percent since 2021 and a significant surge in the cost of utilities and gas in 2022. Healthcare costs have been steadily rising since 2012, with the average monthly cost of traditional insurance being $659 in 2022. This has resulted in financial stress for many Americans. Of those insured, more than two-fifths of working adults consider themselves “inadequately insured”. How can we reconcile spending so much money on health insurance that isn’t fulfilling our needs?

In this blog, we’ll discuss why health insurance plans have a hard time being inclusive, why they’re not the best option for today’s workforce, and how traditional plans and Direct Primary Care (DPC) memberships can partner together to create the perfect solution for everyone.

It’s expensive for a health insurance plan to be inclusive

The soaring costs of healthcare in the United States have become a major concern for individuals and communities across the nation. With health insurance premiums reaching unprecedented levels, finding a sustainable solution has become a priority.

The typical cost per year employers paid for employee insurance in 2022 was $7,911 for single coverage and $22,463 for family coverage. Employees and employers contribute this money, but sometimes the benefit is not utilized, resulting in a waste of finances for both parties.

There are five main factors that affect a plan’s monthly premium: location, age, tobacco use, plan category, and whether the plan covers dependents. These factors make it difficult for employers to keep up with the expensive premiums, as each employee affects the cost differently.

Traditional health insurance plans are not adaptable for a modern-day workforce

Traditional insurance simply isn’t working for today’s modern workforce. Apart from traditional insurance being expensive, it’s also confusing. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say they’ve run into problems when using health insurance within the past year. This includes problems with denied claims, provider networks, and pre-authorization. Through traditional insurance, employers also suffer from surprise bills like “shock claims”, which are claims that are unexpected financial blows to the insured.

Traditional insurance doesn’t prioritize the patient’s experience, affecting people’s motivation to book appointments and seek the medical care they need. Whether it’s because of a lack of flexibility like virtual options, or doctors not having ample time to discuss underlying issues with the patient, traditional insurance doesn’t foster the patient/doctor relationship, and that leads to people being less inclined to access care.

Traditional health insurance is rooted in fee-for-service delivery, not value-based care

Traditional insurance operates by a monthly payment to cover the health plan, with the member paying a fee for each service. The insured are required to meet a deductible before their insurance starts pitching in, and you can also get hit with unexpected bills after treatment or service.

The cost of health insurance and the level of satisfaction people feel toward it are also not equal, and it doesn’t seem like insurance companies have any interest in helping solve this problem. Fee-for-service delivery treats the insured like they’re just another number, but with DPC, the patient/physician relationship is at the forefront, and employers know their employees are receiving quality care.

How traditional insurance plans and DPC memberships partner together

DPC is a healthcare membership that gives its members access to unlimited primary care for a low monthly fee. DPC, at its core, is centered around chronic disease prevention and championing the doctor-patient relationship, supporting members to live a healthy, happy life.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits of DPC:

  • Low monthly membership fee and cost transparency
  • Unlimited access to primary care for a minimal fee and virtual visits for no fee
  • Unlimited access to primary care, urgent care, and chronic disease management for a minimal fee
  • Easy-to-understand benefits
  • More one-on-one time with your healthcare provider
  • Upfront pricing
  • In most cases, appointments to see a physician can be made within days
  • Continuity of care
  • No deductibles

With DPC, you’ll receive continuity of care and a physician who takes the time to listen to you and assess your concerns, whether it’s virtually or in person. This, combined with traditional insurance, allows employees to receive day-to-day care as well as peace of mind for more serious health concerns.

DPC is an answer to many challenges we are facing in healthcare today. To learn more about DPC and how it can partner with traditional insurance, click here.

Ask Dr. John Part 1 – The Benefits of Working with a Direct Primary Care Model

Navigating the healthcare system can come with several challenges for both doctors and patients. Physicians can encounter hurdles when providing care, patients can be overwhelmed when receiving care. A viable solution has been Direct Primary Care (DPC). This model is growing in popularity because it provides a multitude of benefits for physicians and patients. In a three-part blog series, Healthcare2U’s Dr. John Rodriguez shares his insight on what the current burdens are regarding healthcare, some difficult barriers physicians and patients are currently facing, and his perspective on Direct Primary Care.

Q: What are the benefits of working with a direct primary care model?

A: The current fee-for-service model of seeing a patient, then billing that to the insurance company, having that re-priced, and then sent back to us maybe in 30 days, if we’re lucky, has not kept up with our costs of running a healthcare facility. The direct primary care model has been very attractive to many practices because doctors receive payments on the day of service or through a pre-arranged and low monthly retainer fee – this is a novel concept! It’s very attractive to most practices because we feel as though we do finally get paid for our work, and we get paid in a timely fashion. This helps us to keep our overhead much lower in the form of fewer staff as well as being able to provide the care that patients truly need and desire. Being able to receive payments from a cash perspective on time and at the prices that we feel are fair is an extremely attractive way to practice health care. Direct primary care is becoming more advantageous and beginning to take off, not to mention its prices are coming down.

Q: What are some burdens that physician-owned practices must work through regarding insurance?

A: One of the biggest challenges that we have faced for years is poor insurance reimbursement. We have to make our payments when it comes to rent, salaried employees, hourly employees, tax payments, malpractice insurance payments, etc. All these come at a heavy price to us, and unfortunately, insurance reimbursements don’t keep up with the rate of inflation. Now that a physician has dwindled visit time down to about seven minutes, there’s just not enough time to adequately deal with many conditions. This leads to poor patient satisfaction surveys and poor outcomes, and in some cases, important diseases can be missed or misdiagnosed. The stress that comes with this for the providers has forced many to leave the arena of health care, and now they become employed by insurance companies, hospitals, or just leave health care in general.

Stay tuned…

Make sure to stay tuned when we feature our second blog with Dr. Rodriguez where we discuss fee-for-service clinics and the “bad debt” that many physicians carry. For more information on Healthcare2U’s Direct Primary Care membership, read our blog.

Better Benefits Education Means Smarter Healthcare Utilization

A company provides its employees with healthcare benefits – now what?

It is imperative that employees understand how to use these benefits easily and efficiently to get the most out of them. A survey conducted by LIMRA found that 53% of employees felt their employer didn’t effectively communicate their medical benefits. When an employee understands their benefits, the healthcare utilization rate increases, employees’ overall well-being increases, and healthcare expenditure by the company can even decrease.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why it’s important that employees understand their health benefits, how employers can aid in benefits education, and a solution that takes the stress out of benefits education and lowers costs even more for employers.

Why employers should care about benefits education

When employees understand their health benefits, they’re more likely to use them correctly. Knowing about and properly using benefits increases the overall well-being of employees as they are receiving the care they need to stay healthy and happy. Benefits education helps both employees and employers. A MetLife study reported that 51% of employees who feel their health is holistically considered were more likely to continue working for their current organization for at least one more year. This is just the tip of the iceberg when uncovering the residual effects benefits education has for companies.

When employers prioritize benefits education, employees feel empowered to take charge of their health. When an employee doesn’t understand their benefits, they sometimes put off getting the care they need. For many health issues, namely chronic conditions, employees who put off care can end up costing employers a great deal of money down the road. By seeking medical attention and taking control of their wellness journey, employees can improve their mental health, which increases productivity.

How employers can assist in benefits education

Healthcare utilization only works if you work it- this means that employers must aid in benefits education for their employees. Employers should care about benefits education as it can directly result in a decrease in spending for employees and the company. Setting up a meeting to discuss benefits is a great tool that helps employees understand what they’re getting with their benefits. Some benefits companies also offer benefits education campaigns and periodic check-ins, which takes the pressure off employers to coordinate everything themselves.

Another easy yet effective way to help employees learn and utilize their benefits is to have literature available either in the company’s intranet/SharePoint or similar platform or in a communal area in the office with the contact information for the company that is providing health benefits. This way, employees can easily access that information instead of having to search for it. The fewer obstacles a person has to navigate, the more likely they are to access it.

Although these simple actions can make a significant difference in benefits utilization, if the foundation isn’t right, it won’t matter. Choosing the right health benefits for each company is the first step in providing the best experience for employees.

How Direct Primary Care can help lower cost containment and aid in benefits education

If companies are looking for an affordable healthcare option, Direct primary care (DPC) memberships have been steadily rising in popularity due to their higher utilization rates and ease of use. DPC is a type of healthcare membership where patients pay their physician directly for their primary care services, as opposed to paying an insurance company.

DPC lowers a company’s cost containment by operating on a fixed monthly fee. This allows a company more clarity when trying to plan financially for the future. On average, employers can save up to 20% annually in healthcare costs by adopting a DPC model. To take that a step further, proper benefits utilization can help save even more in healthcare costs. Since DPC also focuses on preventative care, companies can worry less about shock claims, which are expensive claims that aren’t common, but employers must pay when they occur (i.e., cancer treatment, organ transplants, etc.)

Below are a few examples of benefits utilization that offer more savings:

  • Scheduling yearly physical exams: Most DPC memberships offer these for a small fee or for free, and they are vital in the early detection of chronic diseases. If left undiagnosed, these diseases could end up costing you a lot down the road (treatments, surgery, etc.)
  • Utilizing virtual care appointments: If an employee has a cold, instead of running to urgent care, they should try virtual care first. In many cases, these visits are free through DPC, whereas an urgent care visit can average $150 – 250 for some DPC memberships. In some cases, you are also able to get a prescription through virtual care instead of scheduling an in-person visit with your physician, which typically costs about $100 – 150 through insurance, a high-deductible health plan, or out-of-pocket.

DPC is a lower-cost healthcare option for companies looking to cut down on expensive and, in many cases, wasteful costs associated with healthcare. Benefits utilization is another necessary ingredient to healthcare savings that is often overlooked by companies as it can take time and effort to plan. To learn more about DPC and benefits education, click here.

Leveraging Technology to Improve the Patient Experience

A recent Gallup poll found that less than half of Americans are satisfied with the quality of US healthcare, the lowest in twenty years. Other studies and polls have identified unaffordable care, poor access to care, and lack of coordinated care as Americans’ main areas of contention. Fortunately, some companies provide solutions in the form of benefit offerings that leverage technology to drive change, automate, simplify, and streamline the patient’s experience.

Healthcare When and Where You Need It

Access to affordable and timely care is essential to good overall health. Still, many Americans are delaying medical care due to costs or are unable to physically meet with a doctor due to distance, transportation issues, or limited appointments.

Most healthcare providers are meeting the need for accessible healthcare by offering virtual care and telehealth options. Fueled by the pandemic, remote care options have seen rapid technological advancements. This will continue to improve in the coming years. Some providers are expanding remote care to include AI-powered digital health offerings like chatbots, symptom checkers, and resource libraries for physicians.

These digital health offerings provide remote access to healthcare services, allowing patients to quickly receive medical care and consultations from the comfort of their own homes. This access can be particularly beneficial for patients with limited mobility who live in rural areas or face other barriers to accessing healthcare. While each provider has varying interfaces and processes, the core of remote care and digital health offerings is ease of use and accessibility. By simplifying the process of seeking out and obtaining care, patients are encouraged and empowered to address health concerns sooner rather than later.

Gaps in Care Coordination

Another important component of an excellent patient experience is how care coordination is handled. Unfortunately, only half of US primary care physicians reported sufficient coordination with other providers. Fewer than half are notified when another provider modifies a patient’s care plan or medication regimen. This lack of coordinated care is concerning because it can result in increased healthcare costs, decreased patient satisfaction, and reduced quality of care. This oversight presents an opportunity zone where technology can contribute to a better patient experience by simplifying the process of sharing health records.

Electronic Health Records (EHR) were created to help physicians capture a full profile of patient data that can be transferred between physicians. However, EHRs are not standardized and vary by region, hospital, and system provider so there are still many interoperability issues. Fortunately, these issues have been recognized, so we should see further developments. To fill this gap, many benefit offerings incorporate patient navigation services to coordinate care, while others have developed their own systems for storing patient records.

Deliver Concierge-Level Patient Experience with a Direct Primary Care Membership

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a monthly membership that provides affordable and convenient access to excellent primary medical care, wellness, and chronic disease management for a low monthly fee. Patient experience is at the core of DPC, making it an ideal option for employers looking to provide valuable and accessible employee benefits. The DPC model prioritizes patient-centered care by offering flexible scheduling options, longer appointment times, and transparent pricing. This type of unrestrictive access to a physician can improve health outcomes and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. DPC especially benefits those with early-stage chronic conditions requiring frequent primary care visits.

Not all DPC memberships are the same – access, price, and services can all vary by practice. Most DPC practices are regional-based and contract directly with individuals in their area, which limits DPC’s benefits to one location. Patients from rural areas or who travel frequently may struggle with regional-based DPC practices. Additionally, the practice sets pricing and services, so those looking for affordable options may have difficulty finding a DPC practice nearby that fits their budget. For employers who want a DPC solution available in different regions, a nationwide DPC membership would best serve their employees.

Healthcare2U: A Nationwide Solution for Direct Primary Care

Healthcare2U’s Direct Primary Care membership removes the barriers to care by providing members with unlimited nationwide access to affordable care. This includes appointments virtually or in-office, unlimited treatment and management of chronic diseases, and round-the-clock virtual care. As mentioned earlier, Healthcare2U also includes patient navigation and advocacy, ensuring members have a bilingual certified medical professional to guide them through their benefits, care options, and appointments. We also built an internal record system to capture patient data that can be shared seamlessly with our Private Physician Network™, meaning that our members have nationwide access to their health information.

Our unique combination of technology and primary care benefits provides concierge-level patient experiences that are easy from beginning to end. We work with brokers nationwide to eliminate barriers to care and encourage patient-physician relationships. Contact us for more information about how DPC can provide concierge-level patient experiences for employer groups.

Traveling this Summer? Take Your Healthcare with You

Eighty-five percent of Americans are planning vacations this summer. As we all know, you can plan your flights, hotels, etc., but one thing you can’t plan for is a surprise sickness. Let’s cover common health issues when traveling, common barriers to healthcare, and how a Direct Primary Care (DPC) membership can bring peace of mind for your next vacation.

What are some common health problems for travelers?

When we travel, our immune system is weakened. Several factors can play into this: we’re not in our typical habitat (i.e., a change in altitude, weather, allergens), we experience an altered sleep schedule, our diet changes, etc. These factors open the door to many illnesses that can sneak in due to our weakened immunity.

Here are some common health issues people face when traveling:

  • Common Cold: Our immune system is weakened during travel, leading to a higher likelihood of contracting an illness. Colds are among the most common. They’re only present for a few days and are usually mild. However, these symptoms can worsen if the proper measures aren’t taken.
  • Stomach pain: Changing your diet while traveling or eating rich and unfamiliar foods can lead to stomach problems. The most common problem among them is diarrhea. If you’re traveling outside of the US, drinking contaminated food or water can lead to “traveler’s diarrhea.” It typically isn’t severe, but if you experience symptoms like a fever or persistent vomiting, seek out medical help.
  • Environmental allergies: Most people travel to a different climate, so staying outdoors for an extended period can lead to allergies. Most people take allergy medication for this problem, like an antihistamine. However, sometimes further steps are needed, and medical treatment is advised.
Common barriers people face when they need healthcare while traveling

When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want is an illness or medical emergency. One of the most significant issues people face is not understanding how to use their benefits while on vacation. For example: what clinics can you visit and, if necessary, how much will an urgent care visit cost? Another barrier is needing continuity of care. This means you might see a doctor in another city or state, and they need to know your previous medical history. This issue can be complicated, resulting in you spending more time filling out paperwork so the physician can understand your medical history and best assess your current health issue.

Direct Primary Care memberships offer benefits at home and on the road

Healthcare2U’s nationwide Direct Primary Care (DPC) membership combines affordability and convenience to create a healthcare solution especially beneficial while traveling. Healthcare2U’s membership offers unlimited benefits such as virtual care for no out-of-pocket cost and in-office visits to participating physicians across state lines for $10 per visit.

At Healthcare2U, our DPC membership starts with a call to our Patient Advocacy Line (PAL). PAL is staffed by bilingual certified medical professionals who walk you through benefits and point you in the right direction. Since our DPC membership is nationwide, you’ll have access to any physician within our network. If you prefer a virtual option, you can always use telehealth. For any care coordinated by Healthcare2U, those Electronic Health Records (EHR) live in Healthcare2U’s system, so you receive continuity of care no matter where you are.

If you’re interested in learning more about how DPC can give you peace of mind for you and your family while you travel, click here.

The Warning Signs for Skin Cancer and How to Prevent It

The conversation surrounding skin cancer has grown over the past few years, likely gaining momentum from startling statistics and countless warnings from doctors. Melanoma, one of the four main types of skin cancer, had a 27 percent increase in new invasive cases diagnosed annually from 2013 to 2023.

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’ll discuss the different types of skin cancer, their early warning signs, and how to protect yourself against it.

The different types of skin cancer

Skin cancer develops from the abnormal growth of skin cells. One in five people in the US will develop it by the time they’re 70 years old.

There are four main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most prevalent typically appearing in the most sun-exposed areas of your body. Basal cell carcinoma appears as a pearly wax or bump, a flesh-colored or brown scar, or bleeding and scabbing. Squamous cell carcinoma seems more of a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a crusted and scaly surface. Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer, appearing as tumors, painful lesions, or nodules on sun-exposed areas.

Melanoma is likely the type of skin cancer most are familiar with. This cancer can appear anywhere on your body and is usually identifiable as a mole that changes in color or size, a large brown spot with dark speckles, or dark lesions on your hands or feet. We’ve heard dermatologists’ pleas, especially with the younger generations, to start wearing sunscreen every day — even on overcast days. Too many ultraviolet (UV) rays damage your skin and increase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Freckles, something that many people credit their genetics for, are caused mainly by UV exposure.

What causes skin cancer?

While many know too much exposure to UV rays is a significant factor in skin damage, many other characteristic risk factors may heighten your chance of developing this type of cancer.

  • Blue or green eyes
  • Lighter skin or skin that is easily burnt
  • Particular hair colors (such as red or blonde)
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Old age
How to protect against skin cancer

Unfortunately, genetics are unchangeable, but there are ways to avoid too much sun exposure so you have a better chance of staving off cancer. To protect yourself, you can take several precautions that lessen your chances of developing it.

  • Avoid the sun, if possible, from 10 AM to 2 PM when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every two hours outside.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Schedule an exam with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) if you have concerns about your skin.

If you think you have any of the symptoms stated earlier or believe you’re at risk of developing them, consult with your PCP to set up a time to get tested for skin cancer. Early detection of this type of cancer is critical! With Healthcare2U, it’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling your doctor.

Colon Cancer is on the Rise in Young People – What to Know and When You Should Get Tested

We’ve all heard the recommendation from doctors to test early on for breast or skin cancer. Still, another cancer is becoming more prevalent each year—colon cancer (also known as colorectal cancer). This type of cancer is becoming more commonplace across the board and specifically rising in younger people under 50.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the rate at which the younger population is getting diagnosed, when you should get tested, and what tests are the best option for you.


Colon cancer is rising for people under 50

For some time, colon cancer rates dropped, but from 2012 through 2016, it increased yearly by two percent in people younger than 50 and one percent in people 50 to 64. For people younger than 50, from 2020 to 2023, there was a nine percent increase in diagnosed cases. Colon cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer for men and women combined in the US. Along with the rising number of diagnosed cases, it’s also become more aggressive for people under 50.

So, why are colon cancer diagnoses among younger people on the rise? No one can pinpoint this, but the most significant risk factors for developing this illness are living a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, heavy drinking and smoking, high-fat diets, and other environmental factors. Since we can’t pinpoint precisely why this type of cancer is rising, testing for it as early as possible is critical. If you can test early enough, you can prevent the disease from getting worse and possibly, even prevent death.

When should you test for colon cancer?

As mentioned before, early testing and detection can be the key to prevention. There are a few risk factors to consider when testing for colon cancer. You should test if you have one or more of the risk factors below.

  • 45 to 75 Years of age. The ages recommended to get tested for colon cancer are 45 to 75, but this can depend on if you already have one of the diseases listed below.
  • Gastrointestinal/other types of diseases. If you have any of the diseases listed here, you should get tested as early as 45, or in specific cases, even sooner.
    • An inflammatory bowel disease such as Chron’s or Ulcerative Colitis.
    • A family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps (masses in your colon that can become cancerous).
    • A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) external icon or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
What screening test/procedure is right for me?

Several screening tests are currently available on the market, as well as more traditional screening procedures. The test may be as simple as mailing in a specimen from the comfort of your home, so speak to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) about what they recommend. Below are the five types of screening tests.

  1. Fecal occult blood test. This non-invasive test checks stool for blood that can only be seen with a microscope. A sample is placed on a card or container and sent to a doctor or a lab for testing.
  2. Sigmoidoscopy. An invasive procedure involving a thin, tube-like instrument called a sigmoidoscope that looks inside the rectum and lower colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.
  3. Colonoscopy. This is the most common procedure, and similar to sigmoidoscopy. The most significant difference is the colonoscope (small tube) is inserted through the rectum into the colon. Doctors can remove most polyps found while inside using this specific tube.
  4. Virtual colonoscopy. This is a non-invasive procedure using a series of X-rays called “computed tomography” to take pictures of the colon. A computer then puts together those images and checks for any irregularities.
  5. DNA stool test. Similar to a fecal occult blood test, this non-invasive test checks DNA in the stool cells for genetic changes that may develop into colon cancer.

The bottom line is this — don’t forget about colon cancer! With this type of cancer clearly on the rise, especially among the younger population, early detection is the key to managing this illness. Consult your PCP if you have any of the risk factors mentioned in this blog. Healthcare2U’s Direct Primary Care membership connects you with a PCP who is your care advocate and can educate you on which screening test is best for you. Read more about our membership on our website or contact us to speak to a representative.