Eight Steps to Healthy Health Care
It wasnt long ago that the punditry in Washington, D.C., was
declaring that you, the frustrated health-care consumer, were in control of the
nations political future. Polls showed you were demanding legislation to protect
against the worst instincts of money-hungry HMOs. And the talking heads were all
predicting that the patients rights issue might decide many congressional races in
this falls elections.
Never mind the fancy initials. Does your doctor or health plan take on the financial responsibility for you staying healthy, and if so, do they seem to make decisions based on cost rather than quality? 3. Plan ahead for doctor visits.
Before you see a doctor, write down your questions. Bring them to the examining room and make sure you get the answers you want even if that means taking notes while you're wearing nothing but a paper gown. Share with your doctor what you have already done at home to treat the problem, if anything. 4. Read your medical records.
Ask to see your medical charts occasionally, and especially before an operation or after a major medical event. Make sure the notes are accurate and that they don't mischaracterize what you've told the doctor. Remember that this is a document that will be shared with other medical professionals, and that's how they'll learn about you and your medical problems. And keep your own records at home of medical problems, doctor visits, prescriptions and other medical information. 5. Take any medications as prescribed.
This is particularly true of antibiotics. If you have an unpleasant side effect that makes you want to stop, tell your doctor or pharmacist first. 6. Give feedback to whomever is paying the insurance bill.
If you get insurance coverage from your employer, keep the human resources department apprised of your experiences with the health plan, both positive and negative. That's the best way to get the benefits and health plan that you want. If you have a gripe or a request for a new benefit, get together with colleagues at work and ask collectively. 7. Dont be gullible.
Just because some test or treatment is advertised in a magazine or discussed in an Internet chat room, don't believe everything you hear. Check it out with a few other sources. Ask your doctor, look at medical books in the library, search some of the reliable Web sites that rely on scientific study of medical care. And if you do try an alternative treatment, be sure to mention it to your doctor. 8. Take care of yourself. Prevention is usually easier and more pleasant than treating health problems.