These days, subscription plans, otherwise known as membership plans, are everywhere. Joining as a member offers perks, discounts, or more options that non-members would have access to. While the cell phone contracts of the past bring up some anxiety for most of us, sometimes membership plans can be used to our advantage.

What are the advantages of membership plans?

Part of how membership plans work is to get your “buy in” or commitment. This isn’t always meant to be deceptive, because often what you want to commit to is aligned with what the company is offering. You want a great exercise experience: enter gym memberships. You want access to top spin teachers from across the country: enter the Peloton membership. You want small-batch wines from Napa: enter the wine club membership.

The main advantage of a membership is clear: what you want is aligned with what the company wants to give you. And without the membership, the variety or quality of experience you’d like to have may not be possible.

What are the disadvantages of membership plans?

Membership plans are a commitment, so you need to be clear about what you need from the membership to make it work best for you. There may be a membership cancellation fee, so that the company can “recoup” any upfront costs involved in membership perks, so understanding the membership contract well is important.

What about a functional medicine membership plan for my health care?

Many membership plans in health care, including those that Vytal Health offers, come with a “preloaded” amount of physician face-to-face time. This is meant to motivate you to connect with your physician regularly, and to prioritize yourself in your healing process. So many doctors see you when you’re sick, treat you, and then fall away, leaving you to try to organize your care in between visits, which can sometimes be months or even years. Unfortunately, traditional health care has taken this approach: you only see the doctor when you feel terrible, with periodic and superficial check-ins that don’t bring you any value (other than getting your medications refilled).

Typically, we don’t make progress in our health without a partner–someone in our corner to help us stay committed to our healing.

Companies like Vytal Health are more invested in getting you well and keeping you well, and that means partnering through a membership model to make sure you and your doctor have planned time to follow-up and check in.

Functional medicine memberships, like those Vytal Health offers, also offer discounts on other key parts of your treatment plan, like advanced functional medicine lab tests and supplements. This is meant to make your total treatment plan more affordable, knowing that most of these expenses come out of your pocket.

Which functional medicine membership plan is best for me?

Functional medicine membership plans at Vytal Health are designed around the time spent with your doctor per year. They also include discounts on in-depth comprehensive functional medicine lab testing (as you and your doctor see fit) as well as discounts on high quality supplements.

If you have a well-controlled medical problem, like hypothyroidism or menopause, then a simple 1-2 times per year touch-base works well, and the Support Plan is the way to go.

Most of our members prefer our Guide Plan, which offers ample time to spend working through current health problems and also making plans to prevent future health problems. For people with ongoing problems, for example autoimmune issues, gut problems, or migraines, this plan provides ample support from your doctor who can see you more frequently. We have found that patients who are seen more frequently have better results.

For members who have more complex medical conditions, or who prefer to use their Vytal Health physician as their resource for everything, the Partner Plan is the way to go. With unlimited access to your doctor (overnight coverage is not available at this time), you can get the most of your functional medicine membership plan, with significant discounts on test kits and supplements, as well as enough time to deeply explore your health–which is quite different from the traditional medical approach where time is measured in 10-minute increments. With this plan, you can think of your Vytal Health doctor as your go-to provider, and make functional medicine the way you receive care. This doesn’t mean you’ll never need a doctor in a clinic or urgent care, since being examined in person sometimes becomes necessary. See our article on this here.

But don’t worry if you’re not sure which plan is right for you! Your doctor and Vytal Health care concierge will help you sort through the options in a personalized way after your first appointment (after your doctor has had a chance to understand your story and develop a plan).

It’s important to know this: you are not tied to a functional medicine membership plan forever. Our goal is to get you healthy so that you aren’t reliant on our care over time (or are less reliant on it).

The bottom line

Membership plans can be an excellent way for you to maximize your commitment, especially those related to health and wellness. Making sure that you understand how to take advantage of your membership benefits, and the limitations of the membership, are the best way to enter into this type of contractual relationship. If done right, you can stand to significantly benefit from the support you get from your membership, the discounts, and the “psychological” commitment you may need to finally prioritize your health, once and for all.

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