New York Times health care reporter Elizabeth Yuko has created a smart and handy checklist for patients and their loved ones. Read her full report here. Voices has also distilled the key points below:
While you’re healthy:
- Get your paperwork in order. That includes having your advance care directive and medical history handy.
- Know your rights. For example, you have a right to get a copy of your medical records. Other rights vary depending upon where you live.
- Don’t skip regular check-ups. As Benjamin Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Cliché. Yes. But also valuable advice.
For a successful doctor’s appointment:
- Think about your goals. Make a list of your symptoms and concerns.
- Write down and/or record your questions and doctor’s answers. Your smart phone likely has a voice recording app. What better time to try it?
- Bring along a friend or family member. That way you can compare notes, thoughts and feelings about the appointment.
- Don’t leave until you know the plan. Make sure you understand your diagnosis, your options, medications, next steps.
If you have to go to the hospital:
- Talk about the bill upfront. Even if the hospital is a member of your health plan’s network, ask if you will be treated by any out-of-network specialists.
- Ask lots of questions. Speak up if you don’t understand and/or are not getting the treatment you feel you need.
- Leave with a plan. Make sure you get specific instructions about medications, therapy, follow-up visits.
Voices for Affordable Health is dedicated to promoting high-quality, affordable health care. Do you have tips to share with other consumers?