I love America and all the freedoms this great country provides. With today being Flag Day (and my wedding anniversary), I am inspired to talk about just how embracing and appreciating our freedoms can help our health.
Better Health Through Choice
As a nation we have been criticized for our lack of universal health care and our ineffective use of health care dollars. But, reform is in place and changes are coming! We need to focus on what is working with our health care system and how each of us can make things better. One way to personally reform the system is to exercise your right to choose quality care.
It’s all too often that we choose our health care providers from a list of those that our insurance provider accepts. This is naturally the most economical option, but it is a pretty risky undertaking. I have had docs and dentists that I stuck with for far too long simply because I figured the insurance company recommended them so they must be good. I also felt powerless to “fire” them. I was wrong on both accounts. It is my health and I am always free to control my care!
It is not only appropriate, but also essential to shop around for better care. I’ve called doctors offices and asked what they charge for visits if I didn’t have insurance – and I was surprised to learn that while insurance companies are not flexible with rates, doctor’s offices often are. I got braver about demanding better care by interviewing docs before committing to making them a valued member of my health care team.
Better Care Through Involvement
Although some luck does go into finding great health care providers, by taking an active role in your care you are more likely to get the quality you deserve – so exercise that right . After my first doctor experience gone wrong in which my endocrinologist told me that I was fine and didn’t need additional thyroid care, in spite of the fact that I was a crying mess on his examining table, I finally decided that I needed to be a more active patient. I researched thyroid disease and learned that I was likely one of the many thyroid patients who need T3 in addition to traditional T4 to alleviate my symptoms (fatigue, depression, cold intolerance, dry skin). I found a doctor who was willing to work with me, and I am much healthier and happier because of it!
That lesson also taught me to keep meticulous records of all my labs, paperwork and office visits. I have a binder that I tote with me to all medical appointments so my doctor and I are always on the same page. I make note of any lab abnormalities and ask my doctors to explain them. They are always more than happy to help, and often are relieved that I am keeping track of my care since they can’t possibly know everything about me in our brief 10-15 min appointments. Doctors aren’t miracle workers. We have to help them do their jobs. You wouldn’t expect your mechanic to work on your car without giving them a history of previous service, so why would your treat your body any differently?
Health care is intimidating. We all tend to think of doctors as gods and insurance companies as the ultimate gatekeepers. While both parties do hold a whole lot of power over health care, you are powerful too. It is your body, your money, and ultimately your right and responsibility to insure that you get the care you need!
Looking for quality health care resources? The Internet truly fuels our power to be educated consumers, provided we look to reliable health sites.