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Take charge of your medical care

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:

  1. Get your paperwork in order. That includes having your advance care directive and medical history handy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Think about your goals. Make a list of your symptoms and concerns.
  2. 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?
  3. Bring along a friend or family member. That way you can compare notes, thoughts and feelings about the appointment.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Speak up if you don’t understand and/or are not getting the treatment you feel you need.
  3. 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?