How adults can take active roles in their health care

  • There are many ways for patients to get more out of their health care plans. (Courtesy photo)
    There are many ways for patients to get more out of their health care plans. (Courtesy photo)

From Metro

Adults play a significant role in their own health care. Adults focused on getting fit may visit various fitness facilities before signing up for a membership, and individuals who want to improve their diets may spend countless hours poring over healthy recipes and the latest trends in nutrition. Such research pays dividends, and the same commitment can be applied to choosing the right health care services.
Adults who are enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance plans may feel as though their options are limited in regard to their health care services. However, there are many ways for patients to get more out of their health care plans.
• Shop around for a primary care physician. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when perusing lists of in-network primary care physicians provided by insurance companies. Such lists can seem endless and it can be hard to distinguish one physician from another. Adults in need of new primary care physicians can ask neighbors or family and friends who live nearby for recommendations. It’s important to put the time in when choosing a primary care physician, as people who are comfortable with their physicians are more likely to schedule annual wellness visits or book appointments when they aren’t feeling well. Such visits can be life-saving.
• Schedule annual wellness visits. Annual wellness visits are very important, even for health-conscious individuals who are not experiencing any signs of illness or injury. Regular checkups and screenings can uncover health problems even when no symptoms are present, potentially saving patients’ lives. For example, Hackensack Meridian Health reports that mammograms have reduced breast cancer mortality in the United States by 40 percent since 1990. Many insurance providers cover annual physicals at no cost to the patient, and screenings can catch diseases early when they’re at their most treatable and treatment is less expensive and less time-consuming.
• Be a prepared patient. Prepare a list of questions prior to a scheduled doctor’s appointment. Jot questions down as they come to you in the weeks leading up to the appointment and don’t hesitate to ask questions during the visit.
• Be open and honest with your physician. Concealing behaviors from your physician will negate some of the benefits of visiting the doctor. For example, if you live a largely sedentary lifestyle but tell your doctor you’re physically active, he or she won’t offer advice on how to make exercise a bigger part of your life. Being open and honest with a physician enables the doctor to give the best medical advice.
Taking an active role in their health care is a great way for adults to improve their overall health and can help them reduce their risk for illness.