Today's blog is written by guest blogger, Sharon Wagner, from Senior Friendly. We truly appreciate her for sharing these helpful insights for our readers.
Perhaps you've developed a chronic health condition in the past year, or maybe you're simply getting older and attending more checkups and routine doctor's appointments as a result. Knowing when to speak up for yourself when it comes to your health is a valuable skill. Learn more about becoming a stronger advocate for your health in order to maximize your doctor's appointments and get the best out of your treatment.
When Should You Advocate for Your Health?
Sometimes you'll have a great appointment with a medical professional who listens to you, takes detailed notes, and answers all of your questions. Other times, you'll feel like the person you saw barely listened to a word you said.
Advocating for yourself means staying on top of your medical records and health insurance. It also means that you have a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of any conditions you have (or are at risk of developing), and have the courage to ask questions if you feel that you need a second opinion.
4 Ways to Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands
Knowing that you need to advocate for yourself and understanding how to do so are two different topics. Here are a few approaches you can try if you feel like you're not getting the care you deserve.
- Attend Preventive Care Appointments
According to the Affordable Care Act, you are entitled to certain types of free preventive care. You may be able to schedule yearly physicals, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, and prenatal care appointments.
- Gain a Better Understanding of Health Insurance
This is especially important if you've been diagnosed with a long-term condition. For example, do you understand the difference between a premium and a deductible? Do you know how much of your care your insurance covers in different situations? Take a moment to read over your health plan and call with any questions you may have.
If you have a chronic health condition, you may be spending an enormous amount of money out of pocket to pay for checkups, tests, and doctor's office bills. Look into switching to a low-deductible plan, which can be more appropriate for someone who needs a lot of medical care. You'll meet your deductible faster and your insurance will kick in and start paying more of your medical bills sooner.
- Know When to "Break Up" With Your Doctor
At times, you may schedule an appointment with, or be assigned to, a doctor who you know is a bad fit. He or she may be blatantly rude, biased, or sexist -- or you might just not be able to communicate clearly with this person. Breaking up with your doctor and finding a new one is sometimes the best option.
- Keep Detailed Records and Submit Forms on Time
Make sure to submit healthcare forms and questionnaires to your providers as soon as possible. When they have this paperwork on hand, scheduling your appointments and finding your records will be easier. They'll also have your information available to send to other members of your healthcare team including nurses and social workers. You can use an online tool to add pages to PDF so you can merge files, reorder pages, and delete parts of the file that you no longer need.
Being an advocate for yourself, in any situation, takes courage. Go into every appointment armed with knowledge and the fact that, at the very least, you deserve to be heard. And be sure to keep detailed medical records.
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Knowing When to Move: Caring for a Senior Family Member
5 Ways to Be a Health Advocate for Yourself