Part of getting optimum results in your healthcare is to make sure that you are on top of every aspect of what is going on with your diagnosis/treatment and your insurance benefits. There are times when a sickness is debilitating. In that case, I hope that there is someone in your family or connections who can check out the situations that you are facing with doctors, physical therapy services and insurance companies.
Physicians and Medical Specialists
1. Make sure you get the best doctor that you can find. Some websites like healthgrades.com or Zocdoc.com are beneficial in helping to find the best doctors. If you need a surgeon in an area of medicine, you can ask your primary physician if he/she can refer you to one. You can also go to surgeonratings.org. You can check out the medical history of a preferred doctor at the Federation of State Medical Boards’ website. Check out Hospitalcomparehhs.gov if you need a good hospital referral.
2. If a doctor diagnoses a health issue. Ask questions about it (if you are physically able). You may not be ready at that times, but go home and research the issue; ask others, especially professionals or people who have experienced your diagnosis. Formulate some questions about what you are facing. Then ask the questions when you return for the next doctor’s visit. It would be great if you have a doctor with whom you can email your questions in advance and he/she can answer them when you come on appointment day. That is a rarity, though.
3. Make sure that the doctor knows your history. Of course, there are questionnaires in the application process and they can be useful. However, no two people have the same experiences. A person’s unique experiences may contribute significantly to a health situation and thereby merit a more personal diagnosis and treatment plan.
I had a situation in which the doctor diagnosed what he saw but made an inaccurate determination as to the reason for the health diagnosis. This may not be important to some, but I feel the reason for the health problem is very important in determining proper treatment. The questionnaires alone cannot give a healthcare provider an accurate description of what maybe occurring in a particular person’s diagnosis. Sometimes doctors take five minutes to talk and you are out of the door. (I know that it is not always the doctor’s fault; there may be other issues constraining his/her time.) In my case, I sent an email outlining my concerns about the lack of a more personalized office time because the questionnaire did not adequately give a picture of my history or my health issue. People are not a sum total of a demographic group, whether it is gender, racial/ethnicity or age. Everyone has a personalized history and there may be some experiences that do not fit a demographic group or a standard questionnaire.
I surmised that this is the case quite often. In my case, I did not feel that my personal history and experiences were considered enough. Therefore, I felt that the onus was on me to keep abreast of what was happening in my situation. The onus was also on me not to accept everything without questions. If there are things for which I am concerned, I voice my issues. We can move on when my issues are resolved. If you find that you are not satisfied with your doctor, you certainly are free to find another doctor.
4. Document treatments and prescription plans.
5. Ask questions about the treatment plan. Ask if there are alternatives to the particular treatment that is being prescribed. If you are not asked what your preference is, tell them anyway.
6. Never agree to major surgery without a second opinion.
1. You may obtain a physical therapist through you physician’s referral, online, local hospitals or the American Physical Therapy Association. Please, please check out a physical therapist service’ credentials and its history and treatment of patients before using it. Check the therapist or service out, even when he/she/it has been referred by your doctor or another professional.
I have found that there are physical therapy services (not all) that do as little as possible when dealing with their patients and still charge the insurance companies. Some patients are unable to evaluate the situation because they are too sick, so hopefully, there is someone in the family, a guardian or professional who can evaluate the situation if a person is too sick to do it for themselves.
2. Ask questions about the therapy that you are getting. Make sure that you are getting all that you are paying for from at the start. That means check your statements, even if the insurance company is paying for the whole bill. There may be mistakes or there may be some inaccurate charges. This happens. Ask questions about the billing—some services are crafty in the way that they present their billing statements. Not all therapy services are scam artists; most are reputable, but do your due diligence.
1. Make sure that your health insurance is the best for you. You can do an internet search and compare health insurance companies and their benefits side-by-side. Check out pickhealthinsurance.com or medicare.gov. Get someone to help you if you are unable to do this for yourself. Do not use insurance representatives because they will try to sell you insurance from the insurance company that they represent.
2. If you are satisfied with your insurance company—great! Make sure, however, that you check all statements. Everyone can make mistakes!
P.S. If you are a Christian, the first thing you should do when you are sick is to get the elders of your church to pray for you. James 5:14-16 states that the prayer of faith and anointing with oil of the church leader (or leadership) in the Name of the Lord will restore the sick and if he/she has committed sins, they will be forgiven. The above information is important when seeking the care of a physician when you need further medical care.
I will be discussing HMO’s and PPO’s in a later blog on the issue of healthcare.