Healthcare Savvy

As we all know, health care in the United States is changing. One of the positive outcomes of these changes is that more Americans are taking an active role in health care related decisions. Some of this is being pressed on us with the introduction of high deductible health plans. However, a lot of good can come from being an engaged and well-informed consumer regardless -- that's the focus here. So, what does an engaged healthcare consumer do? I crowd sourced a working definition for us to use. 

An engaged healthcare consumer...
  1. Has a primary care physician who is a partner in managing his or her health—with scheduled visits as recommended, whether for regular follow-ups for existing conditions or according to the age-related recommendations for prevention by sources such as NIH
  2. Asks the 5 questions recommended in theChoosing Wisely campaign before getting any test, treatment, or procedure and carefully considers all options before deciding among them:
    ► Do I really need this test or procedure?
    ► What are the risks?
    ► Are there simpler, safer options? 
    ► What happens if I don't do anything? 
    ► How much does it cost?
  1. Reviews hospital safety data—from sources such as Hospital Compare - Leapfrog,Hospital Quality Ratings - CareChex, and Surgeon Scorecard—before deciding where to seek care.
  2. Actively monitors and tracks personal health indicators like weight, as well as any indicators related to existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  3. Maintains a list of medications taken and shows it to medical providers when seeking care, and keeps the list up to date in electronic medical records. 
  4. Makes day-to-day decisions that support good health and takes any medications as prescribed and instructed.
  5. Develops a personal/family budget to manage healthcare expenses.
  6. Uses available tools to make cost-conscious decisions.
  7. Has an income-protection plan (e.g., short-term and long-term disability coverage) to rely on in case of an injury or illness that makes working impossible or limited. 
  8. Has an advanced healthcare directive that has been discussed with family members and keeps all beneficiary designations current.

It also helps to understand how your insurance coverage works. 86% of people cannot correctly define deductible, copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket max. Test your knowledge by flipping through the deck of tiles I created with Airbo. If you like the format, be sure and check back. I'll be adding tiles as I think of other things that may be helpful. 

I've organized two types of posts on this page. Posts that contain information that will help you chose the best health plan for yourself and your family and posts that will help you be a more savvy consumer and get the best quality care. I define quality care as:
  • Safeavoid harm
  • Effectiveevidence based
  • Person-centeredrespectful and responsive to individual needs and values
  • Timelywhen it's needed
  • Efficientavoids waste
  • Equitabledoes not vary in quality because of an individual's characteristics (e.g., race, gender, employment status) 

How to Choose a Health Care Plan for Yourself and Your Family

How to be a Savvy Health Care Consumer
  1. Finding the Safest Care
  2. Where to Seek Care
  3. 10 Health Care Tips for Travel
  4. Retail or Mail Order for Your Maintenance Meds
  5. Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids
  6. Seven Questions Caregivers Need to Ask
  7. 10 Tips to Help You Save Money on Prescription Drugs
  8. There's an App for that! United Healthcare's Health4Me
  9. Paying for Your Care with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
  10. How Safe are the Hospitals We Use?
  11. How to Talk with Your Doctor about the Quality and the Cost of Your Care -- 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment, or Procedure
  12. Understanding Prescription Drug Pricing and Safety
  13. Getting ready to send your child to college? Complete this health related check list before you wave good-bye.
  14. How Much Does a Screening Colonoscopy Really Cost?
  15. How to Be the CEO of Your Health -- Resources for Empowered Patients ~Dr. Gourdine
  16. The $50,000 Physical ~JAMA June 4, 2014
  17. From Passive Patient to Savvy Healthcare Consumer: How to Seek and Find the Best Care ~Dr. Gourdine
If you like information organized visually, check out our Healthcare Savvy Pinterest board. 

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