How to be your own health care advocate

12801292_SYour doctor isn’t the only one involved in keeping you healthy – you are too!  Let’s look at some ways you can proactively take charge and further advocate for your health care as you work with your doctor.

Do you know what doctors and procedures your insurance covers? This is important to know so you are aware of what to expect. You don’t want to go to a specialist or a lab appointment to find out they are out-of-network and you will be stuck with a bigger bill. Additionally, preventative procedures are typically covered at a higher level, so that should encourage you to stay on top of necessary tests!

Did you know you can ask for copies of your medical records? Your doctor’s office keeps your medical records on file, but it is also a good idea to maintain these records on your own! You never know when you want to review a record or send a copy to a specialist or another doctor. If you don’t want to keep piles of papers, ask your doctor or insurance plan about options for accessing your records electronically.

When you are at your doctor’s appointment, ask questions! Even better, prepare your questions before you go to the appointment, especially because time is usually limited and nerves may throw off what you want to remember. If you aren’t pleased with the responses, diagnosis or even just want your medical information reviewed by another doctor, it is okay to seek out a second opinion.

Being proactive in your health care doesn’t stop after those appointments. It also includes keeping an eye on your medical bills. When you get that bill, make sure it is accurate. If you notice something that doesn’t look right, call and ask the provider for an explanation. Additionally, make sure your bill and your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) match.