I love anything that helps me quantify myself. I have a Zeo, use Noom and its pedometer, subscribe to 23andMe, bought a new weight scale, and so on. Recently I signed up for WellnessFX – a service I’ve been drooling over for a couple years now and finally decided to jump in and bite.
Why now? Well, they sent me this email with a 20% off coupon (MARCHWELLNESS) – I think you can use it as well. That means the price dropped from $199 to $159 or thereabouts. While I didn’t use an HSA or FSA account, apparently this is an entirely justifiable use (for those who have such things). I also left Cairn, where I had good health insurance and am now technically self-employed. I’m shopping around for health insurance, but so far the options have been crazy expensive (due to preexisting health conditions), so I’ve been paying out-of-pocket, and I figured since I’m saving money by not having health insurance I could splurge a bit and do something for my health by using WellnessFX.
What is WellnessFX? Great question! Essentially, WellnessFX offers health analysis through blood testing and a consult with a medical professional. Lets walk through the process I went through and that will probably give everyone a better idea…
First off, I signed up for WellnessFX on their website and purchased their Baseline package which normally clocks in at $199. Using the discount code above I was able to get it for around $159.
Next, I chose a lab location I wanted to schedule a visit at. WellnessFX has partnered with some of the largest labs in the country – so finding a nearby lab was easy. I chose a day and time from those available – and presto, I was good to go.
The next day I went to the lab, submitted my paperwork, and within fifteen minutes had three vials of blood drawn and was able to leave, no worse for the experience.
Now came the waiting – and somewhere in there the questions. I filled out a bunch of questions about my health and habits. Nothing too overwhelming. An email said it might take three to five days for my results to be analyzed. I had gone in for the blood draw on Tuesday and had the results by Friday.
I logged into the WellnessFX site and took a look at my health stats. Everything is broken up into nice little panels of similar analyses. The first was a basic lipid panel which calculated total cholesterol, LDL-C Direct (bad cholesterol), HDL-C Direct (good cholesterol), and Triglycerides. Uhhohhh, my triglycerides are high. Well, I knew this from the last time I was at my general practitioner…and I’m looking forward to my consult with WellnessFX, as I already take Omega-3 supplements and still have the high triglycerides.
Next is the LDL Particles showing vLDL-C, LP(a), and Apo B – again, I’m not doing well on the Apo B side (protein in LDL (bad) cholesterol). Somewhat surprisingly the next segment “Inflammation” shows me as being fine – interesting since I’ve been undergoing a lot of testing related to auto-immune issues and have had an escalating ANA result (bad). But at least by WellnessFX’s measurement I’m okay – but they only measure hs-CRP – and I’m guessing that ANA is different?
The next major section covers Metabolic health. I’m doing fine as far as diabetes and insulin resistance go – both my glucose and Hemoglobin A1c are within normal parameters. This is somewhat surprising to me as I sometimes have symptoms which seem diabetic and I’ve eaten enough sugar to put some folks into a comatose state – no, I’m not proud of that, its just a fact.
My thyroid levels (TSH) also come up okay – but I’m a little saddened by the lack of tests performed on the thyroid. One can get more extensive testing done with their Thyroid test but that doesn’t include most of what is in the Baseline and costs a $399. I understand the price difference is probably in the testing, its just unfortunate. If one where to get the Thyroid test one would receive not only TSH but also T4, T3, T3 Uptake, Free Thyroxine Index, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Free T4 analysis. I’ve had most of these during my entire health episode over the past year or so.
Still under metabolism they’ll check on my liver function – which appears to be happy as can be. This includes testing of ALT / SGPT, ALP, AST / SGOT, Bilirubin, Albumin, Total Protein, Globulin, and the Albumin / Globulin ration.
Just down to kidneys and there are some interesting results which I’m looking forward to talking about during the consult. My creatinine (serum) is within bounds, but right at the upper end and at the end of this section I see that my BUN / Creatinine Ratio is within bounds, but right at the lower end. There are also tests for eGFR, BUN, and Albumin – all of which look fine.
Next major section is electrolytes – I’m looking good across the board. They measured my sodium, potassium, chloride, CO2, and calcium levels – all are within bounds.
Then it is on to Bone. Here my ALP and Calcium are fine but my 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D is quite low. A note has been attached to my results informing me that while I should discuss this during my consult they recommend I begin taking 10,000 IU of D3 immediately.
The section closes with Vitamins – but the only one measured is 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D, where the results are again low. This is another section where I would like to see a little more testing – and, again, they do offer testing with a more expensive package. Their Performance package which clocks in at a frightening $699 also checks Ferritin, Folate, Vitamin B12, RBC Magnesium.
In addition, having been spoiled by my recent blood tests while under health insurance, I’m saddened to see that complete blood count, total iron binding capacity, DHEA, free testosterone, testosterone, estradiol, SHBG, Cortisol, IGF-1, and insulin are all only available with the Performance package.
I don’t even know what all those are for, but I do know I’d love to have my testosterone, cortisol, and insulin levels analyzed as well. I suspect my cortisol levels would be low.
But that isn’t quite the end of WellnessFX for me. Next I get a 20-minute consult. There are a number of different medical professionals available, I chose Dr. Andrea Gorman b/c one of her areas of expertise is mental health – and goodness knows I have my bouts with OCD and Depression. The consult isn’t for another week or so, but I’ll update the post once I’ve spoken with Dr. Gorman.
Finally, WellnessFX isn’t a once-and-done process, it is meant to be repeated every 4-6 months. I’d like to do it every four months to start, and as my health stabilizes and stats stabilize to move to once every 6 mo. or even once every 12 mo. It doesn’t appear that there is a price break for returning customers – which is unfortunate, but they do offer over-time analysis through the web interface, helping you track and quantify your health as time passes and one makes adjustments to one’s lifestyle, or life makes adjustments to you.
In my opinion, this is the future of medicine. “But Dave, how can you spend $199 when there isn’t anything wrong with you?” Well, first off, I have plenty of health problems, so there is plenty wrong with me. 🙂 But, lets say I was healthy, I still think this would be a good investment. It takes very little time and empowers the individual to take care of their own health. It could help reduce not only their long-term health costs but also the overall healthcare burden on our nation’s GDP as it is very likely that health issues will be detected and treatment begun much earlier in the process than the way most of us are going now…
I don’t want to get rid of doctors – by no means! But I would love to see doctors doing less busywork checking if folks are healthy and able to focus more on when we are actually in trouble, and WellnessFX seems to enable just such a system. I’d suggest to doctors that this might even be something they’d want to recommend to patients in their practice. “Hey, go get this done twice a year and we’ll look over the results together at your annual physical, or before if you feel sick.” $400/yr. really isn’t much – especially if it helps us head off diabetes, thyroid issues, heart disease, or etc.!