What the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Obama Care Means for Health Care Consumers

By Louise Radnofsky | The Wall Street Journal

The Supreme court said Congress was acting within its powers under the Constitution when it required most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. It upheld the mandate as a tax, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts.

But the justices found fault with part of the health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid, a joint federal-state insurance program for the poor. The justices made some changes to the Medicaid portion of the law.

[More from WSJ.com: Supreme Court Upholds Mandate as Tax]

Q: Does this mean the health overhaul law is in place for good?

A: The decision effectively upholds the law for now, but its future depends on which party controls the White House and Congress after elections in November. President Barack Obama and most Democrats consider the law a signature achievement and want to move forward implementing it. Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have pledged to overturn it. They say they would offer an alternative proposal but haven’t been specific about what it would include.

Q: What happens to any benefits I already get because of the law?

A: They will stay in place for now. Parents will still be able to keep their children on their insurance plans up to age 26, and Medicare recipients will keep getting discounts on prescription drugs to close a gap in coverage known as the “doughnut hole.” New levies under the law, such as the 10% tax on tanning services, also stay put.

[Related: Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision: live coverage from SCOTUSblog]

Q: When will I see the big changes from the law?

A: Most of the mandates don’t start until 2014. That is when most Americans will be required to carry insurance or pay the penalty at issue in the Supreme Court case. The penalty will start at $95 a year or up to 1% of a person’s income, whichever is greater.

[More from WSJ.com: Health Ruling Won’t Cure States’ Ills]

Tens of millions of Americans are expected to get insurance coverage under the system that starts in 2014. Some of the poorest Americans will become newly qualified to enroll in the federal-state Medicaid program—although the court appeared to make some changes to how that program will work. Another batch of people who earn more but still have low incomes will get tax credits to offset their insurance costs. Consumers will be able to comparison shop for policies in newly created exchanges that will operate like popular online travel websites.

[Related: Hospital stocks jump after health care ruling]

Insurance companies will have to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of their medical history, and will have to restrict how much they vary premiums based on age. Companies with 50 workers or more will be required to offer insurance to their workers or pay a penalty.

Q: What if I already have insurance?

A: You may see changes to your plan. Unless your employer has “grandfathered” your insurance benefits’ structure, your plan will have to meet new regulations under the law, such as covering more preventive services without out-of-pocket costs. There has been speculation that some employers will stop offering coverage and funnel workers toward exchanges once they open, but most companies say they have no immediate plans to do that.

[More from WSJ.com: Ruling Underscores Hospitals’ Strategy]

Q: What will happen to my insurance premiums?

A: Most consumers can expect to keep seeing increases in premiums and co-payments because the underlying cost of health care is expected to rise. The law contains a few mechanisms to curb premiums, but it also requires that many insurance providers make their benefits more generous, which will raise their cost. Older people could see their premiums go down because of the new age rating rules insurers will face. People who buy policies without the help of an employer could get a better deal by being able to shop on the exchanges, where comparing plans will be easier than before.

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AMA: Supreme Court Decision Protects Much-Needed Health Insurance Coverage for Millions of Americans

Statement attributable to:
Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD
President, American Medical Association

 

The American Medical Association has long supported health insurance coverage for all, and we are pleased that this decisionPDF FIle means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy.

“The AMA remains committed to working on behalf of America’s physicians and patients to ensure the law continues to be implemented in ways that support and incentivize better health outcomes and improve the nation’s health care system.

“This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies. The expanded health care coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive. The decision upholds funding for important research on the effectiveness of drugs and treatments and protects expanded coverage for prevention and wellness care, which has already benefited about 54 million Americans.

“The health reform law upheld by the Supreme Court simplifies administrative burdens, including streamlining insurance claims, so physicians and their staff can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork. It protects those in the Medicare ‘donut hole,’ including the 5.1 million Medicare patients who saved significantly on prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011. These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers.”

Resistance to antibiotics could bring “the end of modern medicine as we know it”, WHO claim

The world is entering an antibiotic crisis which could make routine operations impossible and a scratched knee potentially fatal, the head of the World Health Organisation has claimed.

shutterstock_120021052
Bacteria carried by humans are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics Photo: JOHN TAYLOR

By Hannah Furness

From:  The Telegraph

7:00AM GMT 16 Mar 2012

Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, warned that bacteria were starting to become so resistant to common antibiotics that it could bring about “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

As a result, she claimed, every antibiotic ever developed is at risk of becoming useless, making once-routine operations impossible.

This would include many of the breakthrough drugs developed to treat tuberculosis, malaria, bacterial infections and HIV/AIDS, as well as simple treatments for cuts.

Speaking to a conference of infectious disease experts in Copenhagen, Dr Chan said we could be entering into a “post-antibiotic era”.

Replacement medicines could become more expensive, with longer periods of treatment required to bring about the same effect, she added.

Dr Chan said: “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.

“Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise in Europe and elsewhere in the world. We are losing our first-line antimicrobials.

“Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.

“For patients infected with some drug-resistant pathogens, mortality has been shown to increase by around 50 per cent.

“A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it.”

The stark warning comes shortly after the World Health Organisation published a new book warning of the “global crisis”, entitled “The evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance.”

It reads: “Bacteria which cause disease react to the antibiotics used as treatment by becoming resistant to them, sooner or later.

“A crisis has been building up over the decades, so that today many common and life-threatening infections are becoming difficult or even impossible to treat, sometimes turning a common infection into a life-threatening one.”

The paper blamed the current situation largely on the misuse of antibiotics, which are not prescribed properly and used too frequently and for too long.

It added that an “inexorable increase in antimicrobial-resistant infections, a dearth of new antibiotics in the pipeline and little incentive for industry to invest in research and development” had led to a need for innovation”.

The WHO has now appealed to governments across the world to support research into the antimicrobial resistance.

Value menu medicine is finally here

FEBRUARY 4, 2011

The more doctors (not office managers, staff or nurses), communicate with patients face-to-face and provide other value-driven options, the more those patients will come back again and again. Up until recently, primary care and health care practices were one of the only segments in the U.S. that rarely listed how much their fees were for their time, services and products.

By Staff Member | Concierge Medicine Today | February 4, 2011

ATLANTA, GA – Like Taco Bell, the creator of the ‘value menu’ concept, a lot of modern health care business centers and physicians from across the U.S. are now actually starting to show their prices to their customers (ie patients) before they see the doctor. Up until recently, primary care and health care practices were one of the only segments in the U.S. that rarely listed how much their fees were for their time, services and products.

The recent evolution of retainer based health care, concierge medical business models and direct primary care practices changed all of that. Concierge medical practices are becoming widely popular among a diverse population of people.

However, there is a population of people, mainly those in the media, who understand these types of medical models offered by visioneering physicians across America (and now growing across the globe) to be exclusive, elusive and let’s say it, flat out wrong.

Having spoken to physicians, interviewed experts and been interviewed myself in the past many years, I’ve found that there is real data now available to the public that shows this type of medical care to be exceptionally high quality and affordable. In fact, I’ve found this dynamic and ever evolving industry to be an all-inclusive, inviting and a win-win for anyone looking for something different from their doctor.

Why Is A Concierge Medical Practice A Win-Win For Patients & Family?

• Decreasing Hospitalizations:

A third-party evaluation of recent data shows that concierge medical patients had over 61 percent fewer hospitalizations when compared with similar patients in commercial insurance plans. Not to mention, 74 percent fewer hospitalizations when compared with Medicare patients of similar gender, age, and disease risk.

Plain and simple, concierge medical patients hospital utilization rates are lower, even when you try matching demographic variables from one age to another. In 2006, many concierge practices had a total average hospitalization rate of less than 120 admissions per one thousand admissions. In non-concierge medical practices, the rate was over 226 per one thousand admissions. On average, a huge population of concierge medical patients had 107 fewer admissions per one thousand than people in standard insurance plans. It’s appropriate to say ‘wow’ at this point. That’s a 47 percent reduction in hospitalizations.

• Concierge Medical Care Prevents and Prevents and Prevents. Here’s Proof:

Data when studying concierge medical practices over the past few years has shown that preventable hospitalizations are lowered by 40% in concierge medical practices. In fact, one source shows that avoidable hospitalization rates average less than 17 admissions per one thousand people. In standard health insurance plans with completely comparable patient populations, the rate is over 28 admits per one thousand patients.

  • All We See And Hear In The Media Is That All Concierge Medical Practices Are Exclusive And Really, Really…Expensive. Come on…Really? • Hard Data Analyzed Over Years Shows Almost 60% of Concierge Medical Programs Cost Less Than $136 per month.

This should be a wake up call for all of those critics and cynics in the marketplace thinking this is high-priced, luxury medical care for the rich. Utilizing a blended rate based upon national averages for current fees charged for concierge medical care, an estimated 9,285,714,286 people could be provided concierge medical care with the 13 trillion dollar debt. Carrying this out 928,571,429 people could be provided this care for 10 years.*

So If It’s So Affordable, That Means I Won’t Get Much…Right? Wrong.

Independent analyses show clearly that concierge-models deliver superior clinical outcomes compared to conventional insurance-based practices. Dr. Lee, a practicing concierge physician based in Florida indicates that when you have time to deal with the issues, you do better.

Services typically offered by most concierge medical physicians include:

    • physical exams,
    • blood work,
    • unlimited office visits and other services
      (see many of the most common services listed below)

Membership fees typically cover basic services that include preventive care, routine physicals, longer appointments, next-day appointments, 24-hour-a-day phone access and e-mail, house calls, coordination of care when you travel, and a CD with your medical records. If you have health insurance, your concierge doctor may submit claims for treatments that are not covered under your membership. Some of the most common services include: On call 24/7 access; House calls; No waiting; Unlimited appointments for your membership fee; “Executive physical exams” that include a full body scan, screening for over 180 diseases, blood tests for rare conditions and time spent with a physician going over every aspect of your medical history. These comprehensive exams can cost well into the thousands through traditional channels; Lab tests; X-rays; Coordination of care if you become ill while traveling; Mental health services; Well-baby checks; Acute care visits; Online access to medical records; Home delivery of medications; Hospital visits from the doctor; Transportation to appointments; Coordinated care with specialists during travel; Hotel reservations for family during a medical crisis; Wellness, fitness and lifestyle screenings; Weight management; Nutritional counseling; and more.

Concierge Care, Direct Pay and Retainer Based Physician-Patient Practices Are ‘Relationship-Oriented and Experience-Rich’

The more doctors (not office managers, staff or nurses), communicate with patients face-to-face and provide other value-driven options, the more those patients will come back again and again and better yet, tell their friends and family to see you too.

What primary care of family medical practice do you know of today that spends more than forty five to ninety minutes with each patient on every visit? If you would like to read more about these types of physicians or find a doctor near you, you may want to watch this video that talks more in detail about concierge care, retainer or direct pay physicians athttp://www.ConciergeMedicineToday.com.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Each patient should check with their physician to find out what services are included in their individual membership. These are only examples of some of the services. Your physician practice and membership may or may not include some or all of these types of services.

*The figures shown and facts shown here have been analyzed, published and collected internally by information and resources obtained and conducted by Concierge Medicine Today.

I do think that fear of lawsuits and lack of tort-reform contributes to healthcare costs…

Study: Doctors order tests out of fear of lawsuits

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 6:56 PM

SAN DIEGO — CT scans, MRIs and other pricey imaging tests are often more for the doctor’s benefit than the patient’s, new research confirms.

Roughly one-fifth of tests that bone and joint specialists order are because a doctor fears being sued, not because the patient needs them, a first-of-its-kind study in Pennsylvania suggests.

The study comes a day after President Barack Obama began a push to overhaul state medical malpractice laws as a way to reduce unnecessary tests that drive up health care costs.

“This study is a glimpse behind the curtain of what’s happening in a doctor’s mind,” said its leader, Dr. John Flynn of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. If doctors sense you might second-guess them or cause trouble, “you could potentially be risking more tests being done.”

Results were reported Wednesday at an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference in California.

Patients expect the highest level of care and think this means the most advanced technology, Flynn said. Many patients feel better when a doctor orders lots of tests – until they get the bill.

Besides hurting your wallet and adding to health care costs, unnecessary tests can expose people to radiation that accumulates over a lifetime and can raise the risk of cancer. Ordinary X-rays are rarely a concern, but an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, can cost $1,000 or more. And super-sharp X-rays called CT scans involve relatively large radiation doses.

Yet doctors often order tests they don’t really think a patient needs because they fear being sued if the diagnosis was wrong or they miss detecting a problem.

Previous studies of how often this happens have relied on doctor surveys. This is the first one to enlist doctors in advance to track their decisions over time.

It involved 72 orthopedic surgeons throughout Pennsylvania who tracked tests they ordered on 2,068 patients, mostly adults, in ordinary office visits, emergency rooms and other settings. Doctors checked a box saying a test was either required for clinical care or done “for defensive reasons.”

Defensive imaging accounted for 20 percent of total tests – 11 percent of X-rays, 38 percent of MRIs, 33 percent of CT scans, 57 percent of bone scans and 53 percent of ultrasounds.

Defensive medicine also accounted for 35 percent of costs, nearly all of it from MRIs

One example: a torn meniscus, a knee cartilage injury that is a leading reason for knee surgery. Studies have shown that a doctor’s judgment based on symptoms and an exam is even better than an MRI to diagnose the condition. Yet patients hardly ever go to surgery without having the imaging test, Flynn said.

Surprisingly, the study found that newer doctors were less likely to be defensive.

“That’s counterintuitive,” Flynn said. “You would expect when you’re new in practice, not as trustful of your clinical judgment, you’d order more.”

Doctors who have been sued in the last five years were more likely to order tests defensively, said Robert Miller, a Temple University medical student who helped lead the study and presented the results at the conference. The authors said similar studies are needed on defensive imaging in other specialties.

Dr. Lawrence Wells, a Philadelphia surgeon who participated in the study, said doctors learn to develop “a radar” for problem patients.

“It’s disheartening” to be sued, he said. “Someone’s accusing you of a bad outcome or a wrong,” and that can affect how a doctor behaves the next time he sees a similar case.

Patients need to trust their doctor’s judgment on what is needed, Wells said.

On Tuesday, Obama made a budget proposal that includes money to help states rewrite malpractice laws. Possible measures include caps on awards. The administration also has proposed health courts where specially trained judges rather than juries would decide such cases.

Questions to ask about a medical test:

-Is it truly needed? How will it change my care?

-Have you or another doctor done this test on me before?

-Does the test involve much radiation and is there an alternative that does not?

-How many images are needed?

-Do you have a financial stake in the machines that will be used?

What Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew

By Consumer Reports
Wed, Feb 09, 2011

As the health-reform law takes effect over the next several years, some 32 million newly insured Americans will gain access to a regular doctor. They will soon learn what others already know: Getting the best care from your doctor requires navigating a complex relationship within the 20 or so minutes allotted for the typical office visit. Despite those constraints, three-quarters of the 49,007 Consumer Reportssubscribers we surveyed said they were highly satisfied with their doctors. But they still had complaints ranging from the irritating, such as having to sit too long in the waiting room, to the substantive, such as ineffective treatments.

We also surveyed 660 primary-care physicians who had a lot to say about their professional challenges—and about what patients could do to get the most out of their relationship with their own doctors. Some highlights of the surveys:

  • Doctors and patients alike put a high value on courtesy and professionalism.
  • Patients aren’t taking full advantage of strategies that doctors think are helpful, such as taking notes during their visits.
  • Not knowing much up front about a doctor’s personality or treatment style was a real obstacle for patients in search of a good match.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted the subscriber survey in 2009 (our readers may not be representative of the U.S. population as a whole). The online poll of a national sample of primary-care physicians was conducted in September 2010.

1. Physicians take the long view

Doctors said that forming a long-term relationship with a primary-care physician is the most important thing a patient can do to obtain better medical care, with 76 percent saying it would help “very much.”

Research suggests that patients who frequently switch doctors have more health problems and spend more on care than patients who have a consistent relationship with a single physician.

2. Respect is a two-way street

Being respectful and courteous toward your physician was the No. 2 thing doctors said patients could do to get better care; 61 percent said it would help “very much.” But 70 percent said that since they had started practicing medicine, respect and appreciation from patients had gotten “a little” or “much” worse.

But being courteous doesn’t mean you have to be passive (though you can if you wish; 37 percent of patients we surveyed preferred to trust their doctor’s judgment on treatment decisions). Most doctors said that it was “somewhat” or “very” helpful for patients to ask them questions and occasionally question their recommendations; a mere 4 percent thought those strategies were downright unhelpful.

3. Please take your medicine

Noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations was the top complaint doctors had about their patients. Most of the doctors we surveyed said it affected their ability to provide optimal care: 37 percent said it did so “a lot.”

Feel free to discuss, even debate, your doctor’s treatment plan while you’re still in the office. Then do your best to comply. If you’re having side effects, are unsure whether you’re following instructions properly, or experience new or recurrent symptoms, tell your doctor immediately.

4. Pain is tough to treat

Doctors were harder on themselves than patients were when it came to judging their ability to minimize the pain, discomfort, or disability caused by a condition. Only 37 percent of physicians thought they were “very” effective, though 60 percent more thought they were “somewhat” effective. But 79 percent of patients said their doctor helped to minimize their pain or discomfort.

Perhaps that’s because patients were thinking only of their own conditions, whereas doctors were thinking of their overall effectiveness with all of their patients, including those with chronic conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat, such as fibromyalgia, immune disorders, headaches, neck and back pain, and depression and anxiety. Our survey found that patients with those conditions were significantly more likely to complain about ineffective treatments. Just 53 percent said their doctor helped to minimize their pain or discomfort, and only 31 percent were highly satisfied with their doctor overall.

5. It helps to keep track yourself

Slowly but surely, primary-care doctors are switching over to electronic medical records. Thirty-seven percent told us they keep their records electronically only, compared with just 24 percent who did so in 2007, during our last survey.

But they want you to know that it still pays to keep track of your medical history yourself. Eighty-nine percent said that keeping an informal log of treatments, drugs, changes in condition, notes from previous doctor visits, and tests and procedures could be helpful. But only 33 percent of patients routinely did so. Likewise, 80 percent of doctors thought taking a friend or relative to your office visit could be beneficial, but only 28 percent of patients reported doing so.

6. Research online, but carefully

The patients we surveyed were enthusiastic online researchers; 61 percent reported that they had read about their condition on the Internet. Doctors are not convinced that online research is helpful, to put it mildly. Almost half of physicians we surveyed said online research helps very little or not at all, and just 8 percent thought it was very helpful.

Instead of starting by entering the name of your condition in a search-engine box, try going directly to a few reliable sites. Our health site, ConsumerReportsHealth.org, reviews impartial evidence and takes no advertising (but some of its content is available only to paying subscribers). Government sites are also a good place to start. Try these:

We also recommend high-quality academic treatment-center sites, such as those of the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) and the Cleveland Clinic (www.clevelandclinic.org).

If you find information online that you want to discuss with your doctor, print out only the relevant parts.

7. Doctors are pressed for time

Physicians said the sheer volume of insurance paperwork was No. 1 on the list of things that interfere with their ability to provide optimal care. Next was financial pressures that may force the majority of primary-care providers in our survey to work more than 50 hours a week seeing more than 100 patients.

To get the most out of your time, plan ahead. Jot down a list of questions or concerns you’d like to address during your appointment, and prioritize them so you get to the most important ones first. If you don’t have time to discuss everything, ask whether you can follow up by e-mail (that is, if you can; only 9 percent of patients said they e-mailed their doctor directly in the previous year).

The doctors we surveyed are clearly chafing against health-plan rules and restrictions. Most said such red tape interfered with the care they provided, and 42 percent said it did so “a lot.”

You can’t do much as an individual about burdensome health-plan rules, but you can avoid unwelcome surprises by reading through and understanding your health coverage. (Ask your human-resources department for help if you need it.)

For instance, inquire about your plan’s formulary, a preferred list of drugs for which it charges a lower co-pay. Understand what services your deductible applies to, and find out what rules, if any, apply if you need to see a specialist.

8. They talk to drug salespeople

The medical profession has not always been the most transparent. The American Medical Association, for example, has fought to keep the Medicare payment records of individual doctors confidential. Here are a couple of things that primary-care doctors might not want to tell you:

  • They talk to drug companies more than you might realize. The majority of doctors we surveyed said that pharmaceutical company representatives contacted them more than 10 times a month. Thirty-six percent were contacted more than 20 times a month. On average doctors said they spend a few hours a week dealing with pharmaceutical salespeople.

If you are concerned about your doctor’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies, don’t hesitate to bring up the subject at your next visit.

  • Doctors are dubious about patients’ need to know about malpractice claims or professional disciplinary actions. Forty-seven percent said information about whether the physician has been involved in a malpractice lawsuit was “of little value.” Only 17 percent said that information about disciplinary actions by medical licensing boards was “very valuable.”

It’s true that a malpractice suit can befall any doctor and that disciplinary actions from medical boards don’t necessarily represent the doctor’s overall skill. Still, disciplinary actions levied by medical boards can be for serious offenses, such as substance abuse or criminal behavior, that could affect your care. You might be able to look up your doctor’s record online, though the information that’s available differs by state. Find your state’s medical board at the Federation of State Medical Boards website, at www.fsmb.org, or try your state health department.

This is an excerpt from “What doctors wish their patients knew” on ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

Save time and money with your visit with healthcare provider


by Stephen Meyers, MD

Have you ever been frustrated by an unproductive or inopportune visit with your doctor that wasted your time and money?

Here are a few tips to keep that from happening again.

The problem

Many visits with healthcare providers are poorly timed and less productive than they could be.  Why?  Because nobody is looking out for you between visits. It’s not that your doctor doesn’t care.  He or she is simply too busy with clinical tasks to be able to optimize your visits.

As a result, you spend more money and get suboptimal care:

  • Extra visits and additional costs at the pharmacy.
  • Incorrect or unnecessary testing and treatment.
  • Rushed decisions and explanations.
  • Some visits are so handicapped by poor planning that they accomplish nothing, wasting both your time and money.

It is easy to minimize the number of visits and maximize the time with your doctor.

The solution

You can easily accomplish more for less cost at the doctor’s office with what I call SMART Preparation–Scheduling, Medications, Agenda, Records and Tests.

The exercise will only take a minute or two and will pay off every time.

Scheduling

Optimize visit timing and duration.

  • Most important:  When making the appointment, inform the receptionist of EVERY issue that you need to cover so that adequate time is scheduled.  If you think of additional topics to be addressed, call back to allow a previously scheduled visit to be extended.
  • Schedule visits just before medications refills are due to avoid wasting purchased prescriptions.
  • Using a mail-order pharmacy?  Allow time for shipping to avoid expensive local refills.
  • Space out visits to different healthcare providers to avoid redundant care.

Medications

Save money by knowing your medication history and cost information.

  • Most important:  Bring your insurance drug formulary and/or pharmacy discount drug list.
  • Be sure to know details about any ineffective or poorly tolerated past medications.  (Tip:  If you can’t remember a name or dose, check with the pharmacy.)
  • Carry an accurate list of current medications and dosages.

Agenda

To avoid a return visit sooner than expected, have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished this visit.

  • Most important:  Make a prioritized list of items that you hope to address.  Always present your list to the doctor at the start of the visit.
  • Don’t count on your doctor to identify non-immediate issues that may soon need follow-up.  (Tip:  Look for any prescriptions that have fewer than five refills left.)
  • Identify any future exam or paperwork deadlines (school, camp, daycare, work, employment, insurance).  Address them now, or account for them in the timing of your visit.

Records

Don’t let lack of needed information undermine your visit.

  • Most important:  Turn in your homework.  Examples might include home blood pressure measurements, blood sugar results or a detailed timeline of your symptoms.
  • Gather or request all past records related to issues that you plan to address.
  • Bring all recommendations from other healthcare providers seen since your last visit.

Tests

Avoid unnecessary testing and being hauled back into the office for overlooked lab work.

  • Most important:  Consider what tests you will soon be due for.  Get them out of the way now.
  • Bring a copy of all recent and past pertinent test results done elsewhere.
  • Get a copy of any test results performed this visit.

It is up to you

When seeking assistance from any professional, ample preparation allows you to accomplish more in less time.  In the medical setting it will also improve your care and save money along the way.

Now with SMART Preparation you can spend less for your care than just showing up at the office and hoping for the best.

Stephen Meyers is a family physician who blogs at The Med Savings Blog.

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