A couple in a hospital room

6 Simple Steps to be a Wise Healthcare Consumer

by Lyndsy Gamet, MiCAFE Outreach and Training Coordinator

A couple in a hospital roomWise Healthcare Consumer month is here, sponsored by The American Institute for Preventative Medicine. It aims to bring attention to being a good healthcare consumer. Are you taking the steps necessary to ensure your healthcare is working properly for you?

  1. Speak up. Self advocacy is crucial to getting the most from your healthcare. If you do not like the side effects of your medication or treatment, or if the treatment does not seem to be working, let your healthcare provider know. This will give them the opportunity to reevaluate your needs and decide on what treatment is best. Make sure that you are using your voice when you have a concern.
  2. Shop around. If there is anything that you do not like about your healthcare provider, find a new one. It is okay if they are not the right fit, you can always switch. Check with friends and family members for referrals to a healthcare provider that is right for you. Don’t forget to check to make sure that the office works with your insurance provider.
  3. Do not rush decisions. If you are faced with a surgery or procedure, take time before making a decision. Discuss the pros and cons of the options with your doctor, sleep on it, and decide what is right for you.
  4. Check your bills. Watch out for bills from providers that you are not familiar with, even on your Medicare Summary Notices. Look at the dates of service to assure that they are correct as well. If your insurance denies coverage, or there is an unexplained charge, you can always call your health care plan and ask them to review it.
  5. Schedule those preventative appointments. Make a point to attend your annual physical, get your recommended vaccines, and schedule your screening appointments for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, and osteoporosis.
  6. Live a healthy lifestyle, and get help! There are many programs, often covered by insurance, to help to quit tobacco use, exercise, and eat healthy. Contact your health insurance provider to see what programs they offer.

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