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Advocate For Yourself: Being a Wise Health Consumer

Did you know February is National Wise Health Consumer Month? This national health observance was established by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine to empower people to understand their options, communicate with care providers and make the most educated decisions possible about their health. That’s because they say Americans spend much more of their time researching new vehicle and appliance purchases than they do selecting doctors and health plans.

This week, we will talk about how to advocate for yourself and become a wise health consumer, whether you or a loved one is in hospice in Alameda County or elsewhere.

Tips For Being a Smart Health Consumer

There are many ways you can become a wise healthcare consumer. Here are a few tips to follow.

  1. Take it slow when choosing a doctor. In most cases, there is no rush so take your time when making a decision of this magnitude.
  2. Prepare for doctor visits well ahead of time by jotting down your concerns and questions. This will avoid the panic or forgetfulness that often comes with the pressure you may feel at the actual appointment.
  3. Get regular physical exams. Detecting health issues early on is the best way to reduce medical costs. That’s because those health issues are generally less complicated and invasive to treat when caught in the early stages. Get a physical once a year.
  4. Be a partner with your doctor and participate in your care. You can do this by providing your doctor with complete and accurate information. Give them updated medication info, let them know any new allergies or problems you may be having, and always ask questions if you’re unsure about something. Then, follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter.
  5. Don’t ignore symptoms. If you don’t feel right and something seems off, this could be your body’s way of telling you that you may have a serious underlying condition. You may want to try treating the symptoms on your own first with home remedies but if they don’t work, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
  6. Know your medication, what it’s for, and what it does. When your doctor prescribes something for you, let them know all the prescription and non-prescription medications, as well as vitamins and herbal supplements you may be taking. Ask about side effects and potential interactions.
  7. Use generic drugs when you can. Often, these drugs achieve the same result but at a much lower cost. Ask your doctor if a generic version of the medication is available and if it’s appropriate for treating your condition.
  8. Know your health insurance plan, its offerings, and its restrictions. Know what’s covered and what’s not, and if there’s ever a question about that coverage, call and ask them. This will keep costly surprises at bay.
  9. Take care of your mental health just like you do your physical health. Engage in self-care, seek counseling, or try a support group if you’re going through a tough time. Did you know that depression increases your risk of dying from cancer by 50%, or that depression gives you a 67% higher chance of dying from heart disease? Also, schizophrenia carries double the risk of dying from heart disease, as well as triple the risk of dying from respiratory disease.
  10. Keep a list handy of all of your physicians and prescriptions. Keep this list with you in your purse or car so you will always have easy access to it.
  11. Shop around for health insurance. Half of all Americans say they don’t feel confident that they can save money by comparison shopping for their healthcare. Check reviews, and be diligent about researching your primary care physicians. Check with your insurance company so they don’t simply select one for you at random.
  12. Review coverage changes. Every time you renew or change your insurance policy, take the time to review your coverage options to select the plan that provides the most value for your healthcare needs. Don’t just automatically choose the one with the lowest premium or deductibles.
  13. Ask questions about your prognosis or treatment protocol. Stand up for yourself and ask questions about anything you’re unsure of.
  14. Take advantage of telehealth offerings, which can save you time and money. Many conditions can be managed with an online appointment rather than taking a costly trip to an urgent care clinic. In fact, usually, online telemedicine appointments have the same copay as an in-person doctor’s appointments. Plus, you can save time by choosing a telehealth visit because it’s easier to fit these into your busy daily schedule.

By following these suggestions, you can become your own advocate and thus become a wise healthcare consumer.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We encourage you to do thorough research before selecting a hospice provider in Alameda County and elsewhere. As part of your homework, we urge you to contact us at 888-978-1306 to schedule a tour and to ask questions about our offerings.