Showing posts with label medical insurance. Show all posts

Preparing for an Appointment With a Specialist

doctor appointment

Going to a new doctor does not have to be an overwhelming experience. The key is to be prepared ahead of time. Following are some ideas to get ready to see a specialist for the first time.

The Legwork of Getting Ready to Consult a Medical Specialist

The first thing to understand is what the purpose is of being referred to a specialist. What does the general practitioner hope to accomplish by sending the patient for more specialized care? Will it be the patient’s duty to report the findings back, or will the two doctors be in communication over the medical condition?

Ask the general practitioner who he or she recommends as a specialist, but don’t stop there. For instance, if the other doctor will be a neurologist, rheumatologist, high risk ob/gyn, etc, ask friends and family for recommendations as well. Often others' personal experience can be very valuable in making big decisions like this. The internet can also be a valuable recourse for reviews of doctors and medical centers. Do some homework before choosing a doctor.

Check with the insurance company to find out what doctors are covered and what the patient’s financial responsibility will be. Also ask if a written referral is necessary, and obtain one from the general practitioner if required.

Sometimes, if the situation is not urgent, there can be a waiting period of a few weeks or a month before the appointment. Use this time to collect all medical records to bring to the appointment. Also prepare a list of any medications being taken, both prescription and over the counter. Start thinking of questions to ask the doctor, and make a list to bring.

The Day of the Specialist Appointment

It’s a good idea to bring a family member or close friend to the appointment, both for company and to ask any questions that may have been forgotten. Four ears can also listen better than two, and when a patient is nervous, it can be helpful to have someone else there to listen to instructions.

Check the route to the medical center or office ahead of time, especially if unfamiliar with the area. If possible, it’s even a good idea to take a dry run there a day or two before the appointment so as to feel comfortable with the directions.

Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the appointment time. This will allow time for filling out paperwork and getting settled and calmed down before the appointment. Fill out all answers honestly and thoroughly, this makes it much easier for the doctor to know what’s going on. If possible, clear the rest of the day of responsibilities, that way if the waiting time is longer than anticipated or the appointment itself is lengthy, there will be less stress.

Seeing a new doctor can be stressful in any situation. Often, if a specialist is getting involved, it may be more so. Being prepared ahead of time and having everything in order on the day of the appointment can make the situation much easier to deal with.

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Health Care Reform in the United States

health care reform

T.R. Reid, the author of "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care" recently wrote about the five myths that are fueling the debate for Health Care Reform in the United States, but the most persistent myth of all, he says is that "America has the finest health care in the world".

Perhaps this is why there is such a strong reaction to the current debate that is going on in Congress and in the country. Americans like to be the best and questioning or examining the present health care system magnifies the problems within it which seems to bring a sense of fear and vulnerability to many Americans.

What is Vulnerability?

According to the Livestrong.com website, one definition of vulnerability fits well in regards to the health care struggles for change: Vulnerability is the fear of being trapped or imprisoned in a situation where feelings and rights are ignored.

It seems that Americans are fearful that if changes are put into place for different health care options they will be trapped in some system that is worse than what currently exists. Fear is overshadowing the dialogues that are essential in order to make changes that are wise and workable.

The Town Hall meetings that have been held in cities and in towns throughout the United States are great examples of how vulnerability and fear interrupt discussions. This is what fear and vulnerability look like--people fighting with any emotional or irrational weapons that they are able to find. They are scared that a way of life in the United States will soon be gone.

The Reality of Health Care in the U.S.

The current health care system of private insurance companies is built on capitalism which means these companies exist to provide health care, but also to make a profit. This means that decisions about insurance coverage and approved medical procedures are often viewed from a fiscal standpoint more than a health care perspective.

The costs for medical care not covered by insurance or beyond the allowable limitscontinue to increase and often leads to bankruptcy. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, of Harvard Medical School surveyed 2,314 people who filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and found that 62.1% of the bankruptcies were medically related. A similar survey in 2001 found only 46% of the bankruptcies filed were medically related.

Medicare does provide care for those over 65 and those that are found to be disabled, but many people who are elderly, pay for supplemental insurance to be sure that they have more options and better coverage. Health Insurance costs for self-employed people is very expensive and if a pre-existing medical condition is present, it may not be an option at all.

The present health care system in the United States is not a model for other countries, because it is a system that is need of change. Fear of the unknown and a sense of vulnerability is overshadowing the realities of health care in America. The need for honest, open, rational dialogue about the present health care system is needed, but right now it may be too frightening for too many people for that to occur.

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