Hixme Think

Your Health Coverage – 17 Hints To Control Your Next Dr. Visit

Tammy OlsonTammy Olson


Visiting your doctor can be a pleasant, enlightening experience, or an expensive, time-sucking ordeal. It’s really up to you! These days you can not count on your insurance company alone to prepare you for this. Get the most out of your appointment with these tips. And remember, if you have a Hixme Health Bundle™ you have on demand safety net coverages you need to trigger when you receive certain services. 

1. See yourself as the captain of your own team
Your care is a partnership that includes you, your loved ones, and your healthcare team. Health care providers want you to know you aren’t in this alone. They will do their part—and you need to do yours—to make the partnership work.

2. Be prepared
Make the most of the short time you get with your doctor (average appointments last about 18 minutes). Being preparing ahead of time pays off. Make lists so you have important information readily available. Remember to note current medicines, refill requests, over-the-counter products, allergies, and medical problems. They will want to know about your exercise, diet, sleep habits and support system (family, friends, job, social activities). Make sure to note how your emotional health is doing as well. You should also note any symptoms you’re experiencing. And make sure the doctor has records from other doctors and any imaging or lab test results.

3. Knowledge is power — ask questions!
If you have questions before your appointment, add them to the lists you make to prepare. But even if you don’t, take a pad for making notes and jotting questions as they arise. Don’t hesitate to ask about a medical term or for clarification on instructions. At the end of the appointment, repeat your understanding of your treatment or next steps back to the doctor. Then, ask if you understood correctly and if the doctor has anything to add.

4. Build a list of questions for your specific condition(s)
Use a reputable service such HealthGrades to build a list of questions focused on your specific symptoms or conditions.

5. Know each person and circumstance is different
People get their healthcare information from all kinds of sources these days. And the Internet is full of misinformation. So while its important to educate yourself, realize every person is different. You are an individual, and each person reacts differently to health problems. Information you read may not apply to you. Try not to second guess your doctor, or come in with your own diagnosis that closes your mind to professional perspectives. Rely on and TRUST your healthcare staff to offer the best advice for your circumstances. That is what you are paying them for. If you want another opinion, pursue that respectfully.

6. Be on time
Yeah – we know – doctors notoriously keep you waiting. But being late yourself can be even more frustrating because you might have to reschedule. Know where you’re going, where to park, and what time to arrive. If you’re a new patient, arrive 15 minutes early to complete paperwork without taking away your time with the doctor.

7. Know your insurance requirements and coverage
Seeing a new doctor? Make sure they accept your insurance. Find in-network doctors through your insurance company’s website, or by using the Hixme Help Center Find a Provider function. Then, call the doctor’s office to verify. Need to see a specialist? Find out if you need a referral. Today, many offices handle referrals electronically. Ask the office if they have the referral or if you need to bring a hard copy. And always bring your insurance card and photo ID to your appointments.

8. Bring a friend or family member
You probably don’t need another set of eyes and ears for standard appointments. But any time you see a doctor about a significant health concern, you should consider bringing a friend or family member. This trusted person could take notes and help you ask questions and remember what the doctor tells you. Have a smart phone with a recording function? Making an audio recording of the appointment will let you review as many times as necessary.

9. No soft-pedaling! Be truthful, thorough and accurate
Your doctor isn’t looking for the “right” answer to health questions; he or she just needs a truthful answer. So don’t over- or underestimate your lifestyle habits, such as exercise, diet, smoking, and alcohol use. Along the same lines, be honest about your symptoms. If you have a chronic disease, use a symptom diary to help you keep track. You’ll be less likely to gloss over bad days or forget the really good ones.

10. Be realistic about pain
Resist over- or underestimating your pain so you and your doctor can set achievable pain relief goals. Sometimes pain is part of the recovery process. And your health care professionals are there to get you through it. This may mean they have to push you to do things you might not feel like doing. Nursing VP Judy Balcitis explains, “Walking and deep breathing are often essential to your recovery. And being pain-free is not always possible. But I promise to do everything I can to control your pain.”

11. Take sensitive topics in stride
Uncomfortable sharing personal matters, even with your doctor? Talking about sex, bodily functions, alcohol use, emotional problems, memory problems, and other sensitive topics can be difficult. Remember, doctors are used to and trained to hear about these issues. And it’s likely that your doctor can help, if you are open with him or her. Try rehearsing what to say or telling your doctor upfront that you’re struggling with a topic.

12. Don’t leave with uncertainty
Half of patients leave their doctor’s office uncertain about what they need to do. Asking questions, taking notes and repeating information can help. Ask for handouts or other written materials to review and share with family members or websites where you can find more information. Then, make sure you review the information. And call the office if questions come up at home.

13. Follow up
Your treatment plan is only effective if you follow it. Make sure you know what your next steps are and take care of them. Make a follow-up appointment before you leave the office. Schedule lab tests and imaging exams, fill new prescriptions, and go pick them up. If your pharmacy has a refill program, use it. Make sure you know when you should call the doctor and how to reach your doctor during and after business hours.

14. Ask about a second opinion
Not every doctor visit requires a second opinion. But there are times when a second opinion is useful. When you receive a serious diagnosis, are considering surgery, or have multiple treatment options, a second opinion can help. And your current doctor is the place to start. Mos

15. Complicated condition? Find one professional to coordinate your care
Nurses stress the importance of having coordinated healthcare. Care can become fragmented when you have a hospital stay or see many different specialists. Nurses are a resource to keep your care coordinated. But they also recommend having one doctor who is in charge of your care. You need a captain of the ship. For many adults, an internal medicine doctor fills this role. People older than 80 could see a geriatrician to coordinate their healthcare and work with other specialists.

16. Be sure your doctor’s advice makes sense for you
As people age, especially when they’re 80 or older, screening tests and surgery may not always be necessary. Second opinions could be valuable to confirm a diagnosis or when patients are considering a procedure. Older people should bring a younger family member or friend to their appointments. This person can offer support and a different perspective, along with a second set of ears to help understand what the doctor says.

17. Be heard! Wills, advance directives and notes to self!
Make your healthcare wishes known to your doctors and family members. Formalize your wishes for medical care and end-of-life care through living wills and advance directives, in case you can’t express them yourself.

Hixme participants have additional coverages in their Hixme Health Bundle™ to help pay for certain aspects of care – like copays for appointments. Make sure to contact Hixme after receiving health care to take advantage of any coverage you signed up for.

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ABOUT THE HIXME THINK BLOG: Authored by Hixme executives, postings reflect market trends and the powerful emerging movements toward true portability and personal ownership by workers and their families. Postings follow these emerging trends, driven by consumer ownership of retirement benefits, consolidations by health care institutions, and the stated pro-consumerism goals and actions of the administration, federal agencies and Congress.

Tammy is the Vice President of Client Services for Hixme. She assists employers with strategic employee benefit goals using a migration plan. Prior, she was Principal & the West Market Exchange Sales Leader for Mercer’s private exchange solution. She has more than 20 years of benefits consulting experience with mid to large employers. She has consulted on strategic planning, financial analysis, utilization & self-funded plan management as well as short & long term Affordable Care Act strategies.

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