February 2021 Blog - Be a Wise Healthcare Consumer

Having an open, honest, and candid relationship with your physician and making informed choices is key.

Wise Healthcare Consumer

posted on 2/2/2021 in BLOGS from St. Anthony

Taking a risk requires courage, guts, and bravery. While taking risks can often be a good thing, your health is never something you should put on the line. Becoming an advocate for your health has many benefits, but the most important is that it puts you in the driver’s seat. When people take an active role in their healthcare, research shows they fare better in satisfaction and in how well treatments work. A passive patient is less likely to get well, according to an article on WebMD.

You wouldn’t consider buying a new car without taking it for a test drive and comparing the features with other models. The same is true when it comes to your health. So how do you gain control of your health and become a wise consumer? Communication with your medical team is number one. Having an open, honest, and candid relationship with your physician and making informed choices is key. Having an all-encompassing healthcare system with St. Anthony will give you access to a myriad of specialty doctors, classes and events, support services, therapies, skilled care, and much more without the need for an outside referral. Consider other ways to put yourself and your health FIRST with these tips from BlueCross, BlueShield.

Know your benefits

It’s important to understand what your health insurance plan covers before you need to use it. When your policy materials arrive in the mail, look them over carefully. Know the essentials like your copay, coinsurance and deductible amounts. Look into which prescription medications are covered. Are there any member discounts you can take advantage of?

Familiarize yourself with the resources your health insurance company offers to help you navigate the complexities of the healthcare system. For example, sign up for an online member account to track your spending and review medical and pharmacy claims.

Choose a primary care physician (PCP)

Selecting a family doctor is an important step toward managing your health care. It’s the doctor you visit for most medical needs like annual visits and routine screenings, non-emergency earaches and sore throats, and the person you want to trust most with your health questions and concerns. Make sure the doctor you pick accepts your insurance and is “in-network” for insurance purposes, which means you’ll pay less out of your own pocket for services.

The next step is to schedule an annual preventive check-up. These appointments can help identify health problems early on so you can take steps to keep them from becoming chronic conditions.

Use network doctors and hospitals when possible

Health insurance companies negotiate discounted rates with certain doctors and hospitals in your area, and you will pay less out of your own pocket for visiting them. Selecting an “in-network” doctor will help you avoid surprise “out-of-network” charges and having to pay more out of pocket.

Check online for your health plan’s “in-network” directory of doctors, specialists, hospitals and other facilities, and know where the closest urgent care centers are before you need them. Know before you go!

Ask about generic medications

If your doctor prescribes a brand-name drug, always ask if there’s a generic equivalent. On average, generics cost 30 to 80% less than brand names. In many cases, generics have lower insurance co-pays, too. Generic drugs sold in the U.S. have to meet the same quality and performance standards as their brand-name counterparts so the difference is in cost, not quality.

Review your medical bills

When you do receive your medical bill, look it over carefully. Understand how much you will owe out of your own pocket after insurance and network deductions.

Medical bills may look different but they all include the same basic information. Your bill tells you the services you received, the dates you received them, the cost for each service and the total amount you owe.

If the bill looks correct, pay it and keep a copy for your records. If the statement has an error, contact the billing office at the clinic or hospital. You can always check with your doctor to make sure the correct codes were used when submitting the claim – they can be corrected and resubmitted before you pay unnecessary bills.

These are just some of the ways you can make better-informed decisions regarding your health care. St. Anthony Regional Hospital (Carroll, IA) is dedicated to improving the health of the people we serve. We believe in providing high-quality, healthcare services responsive to the needs of our patients. For more information, visit our website or call us at 712-792-3581. Follow us on Facebook!



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