Advocating for Yourself Can Improve Your Health Care

You know your body better than anyone else, so it makes perfect sense for you to be your own health advocate. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other health care settings are busy places—but don’t be afraid to speak up during your health care appointment and take the time you need to get your questions answered.

Taking responsibility for your own health can improve your confidence in your medical decisions and result in better treatment adherence and improved outcomes.

Ask questions

Decide what you want to accomplish during your health care appointment. Make a list of questions and concerns to take with you, so you can have a meaningful, two-way conversation with your doctor.

Understand how your health insurance works

Knowing what your insurance does and doesn’t cover and any special steps needed for a procedure to be covered can help you navigate the health care system and avoid costly and unexpected medical bills. Always document phone conversations you have with your insurer.

Keep your own medical records

Electronic health records make it easier to access your own medical records. It’s helpful to see exactly what your doctor’s office can see. Keep track of your visits, medications, and procedures to avoid unnecessary appointments. If you have to see a specialist or switch providers, you might avoid hassles in transferring records.

Review your medical bills for errors

Medical bills can be hard to understand. Go over yours carefully, and question anything that looks wrong or that you don’t understand.

Seek a second opinion

Nothing is more important than your health, so seeking the advice of another doctor can be a smart move and give you peace of mind. Generally, second opinions are wise if you’ve been recommended for major, non-emergency surgery; if treatments could be toxic or long-lasting; if you question the accuracy of your diagnosis; or if you feel your concerns have not been addressed. Always check with your insurance company before taking that step.

Take advantage of the ACA’s free preventive care

Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plans cover more than a dozen free health screenings and services. You’ll not only be taking steps to stay healthy, but you will be building a better relationship with your health care provider.