February is Wise Health Care Consumer Month! The primary goal of Wise Health Consumer Month is to teach people how to be more involved in their own health care. Here are some examples of how you can be a wise health care consumer and be proactive in your own health outcomes:
10 Tips for Being a Wise Health Care Consumer
- Take the time to carefully select a primary doctor or health care provider. Ask friends or relatives for recommendations. Investigate whether or not the doctor participates with your health insurance plan.
- Prepare for visits to your health care provider by compiling lists of questions or concerns you wish to discuss during your appointment. It is also important to let the scheduler know what you wish to talk about when you schedule your visit, so they can make sure they schedule enough time to address the issue.
- Get regular physical exams. The single best way to keep medical costs down is to detect health issues early- when they are generally less complicated to treat. Do not ignore symptoms. Ignoring a medical issue now may be a signal of something more serious and could be much harder and more expensive to treat later.
- Be aware of when and where you should seek medical advice and what is available. Life threatening symptoms or serious injuries may require an emergency room visit. Have a milder illness or injury that needs addressed soon but do not feel you can wait to see your regular provider? Urgent Care may be an option. Urgent Care allows you to be seen the same day, without an appointment.
- Be aware of routine medical tests, examinations and immunizations and the recommended times to have them. You may be able to avoid unnecessary and expensive tests.
- Ask questions about medications you are prescribed. Understand why you are taking it and how it should be taken. Finish all medications, even if you are feeling better. Keep a checklist of all medications you are taking and share this list with your health care provider. This is especially important if you are seeing more than one doctor. This includes over the counter medication you take, such as Tylenol, allergy medications or antacids. Some over the counter medications may have an effect or counteract with prescribed medications, or may mask a symptom that should be addressed, for example.
- Utilize the patient portal at your health system if possible. Many health systems now have the ability to sign up to an online system that allows you to view your lab results, office visit summaries and prescriptions, and send messages to your provider for example.
- Understand your health insurance plan inside and out. Know what your co-pay and deductible are, and what your cost sharing is after you have met your deductible. Often many preventative services may be covered without a copay or meeting the deductible, such as physicals and mammograms. Some services, such as outpatient or inpatient hospital visits may apply to a deductible and co-insurance and have more patient cost sharing. A list of basic questions about what is covered and knowing the answers to these questions can save time and money.
- Take care of your mental health as well as you would your physical health. States of emotional upset can interfere with daily living routines and can ultimately affect your physical well-being.
- Keep a list of health agencies handy as a reference. Most are available by phone, email or website and can serve as a resource for free information and support. I can say from working at a public health agency – we often get calls and will gladly try to help link people to services, resources or information. (641-743-6173) You can even submit questions online at the Adair County Health System website.
Stephanie Claussen, Community Health Coordinator
The information provided on the Adair County Health System’s Blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Any references to products, services, or health care providers on this web site are not a recommendation or endorsement of products, services or providers. Links to other Web sites from this site are provided for convenience and do not constitute or imply endorsement. Effort is taken to insure accurate information, however we cannot guarantee completeness or timeliness.