Americans spend more time researching purchases such as cars and appliances than they do choosing health plans, according to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine. Being a wise healthcare consumer means making the right choices that are best for you and your family when it comes to your health.
At times, we take our health, especially lung health for granted. Our lungs work hard every day to make sure they keep germs, bacteria and serious health conditions at bay. They provide oxygen-rich blood to our body to ensure it functions properly. Therefore, it is important that we prioritize our lung health, starting by prioritizing the healthcare we receive as consumers.
As an example, if you or a loved one develops a respiratory condition, you will want to thoroughly research respiratory therapy, which involves caring for patients with chronic breathing problems and lung issues. Factors that cause respiratory problems such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema are often treated with respiratory therapy, and you will want to find a respiratory therapist that is right for you.
We have provided 6 tips to help you navigate and stay on the right track by taking charge of your healthcare.
Choosing a Healthcare Provider for Your Health Needs
Finding a provider that can help you with your specific healthcare needs can be overwhelming. When choosing a provider, it is important to understand the different specialties of healthcare providers. Common healthcare providers include:
- Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the respiratory system which include the lungs and other organs that help you breathe.
- Internal Medicine: Internal medicine physicians typically treat adults and specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions.
- Family Practice: Family practice physicians treat patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. They are generalists who can treat a wide variety of conditions and can often save you a trip to a specialist’s office.
- General Practice: General Practice physicians are like family practice physicians and can treat patients of any gender or age. This category is one area where you might also find osteopaths, which are physicians that practice a type of alternative medicine with a special focus on the musculoskeletal system and are distinguished by the “D.O.” after their name instead of “M.D.” General Practice physicians can usually refer you to a specialist if needed.
Know Your Healthcare Coverage
Be sure you are familiar with your health insurance plan. It is important that your plan covers everything you would like it to, including any specific health difficulties you may have. Your insurance should be tailored to your specific needs and health conditions. You may need to switch healthcare plans if you need additional coverage or if you need to reduce the coverage you currently have if you buy your own insurance. Pay special attention to the cost of your current insurance and do not be afraid to shop around to compare costs of various insurance companies. You do not want to pay more than you need to!
Communication is Key
Before a trip to the doctor, always research and write down any questions you may have for them so that you will be ready for your appointment upon arrival. Always be sure to communicate with your doctor honestly and clearly since they need your compliance to best treat you. Always follow the doctor’s instructions and be sure to ask questions if you are confused or if there is something you do not understand.
Get Regular Check-Ups
Regular check-ups are essential to catching medical problems sooner than later. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. The sooner a condition is diagnosed, the less complicated it usually is to treat, which will drive the costs down for you. If you are over 50, you should be getting a check-up at least once a year. For those with underlying health conditions, you may need more regular check-ups. Your doctor will know what is best for you, so be sure to ask them how often you should visit.
Get Unusual Symptoms Treated
If you think something is wrong, seeking medical attention is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Waiting out your symptoms out at home can increase your chances of complications, which can make for a more costly visit to the doctor as well as pose risks to your health. The sooner you get help the better to confirm that nothing serious is going on.
Use Generic Medication
When prescribed medication, ask if there is a generic alternative you can try instead. Generic medications are usually less expensive than name brands, and most of the time they work just as well as branded ones. Using generic medications will save you money while still getting you the treatment that you need.
Following these tips can ensure that you get the most out of your healthcare plan. By doing these 6 things, you are on your way to becoming a wise healthcare consumer!