Health Advocate Blog

Ways to reduce the stress of healthcare

Let’s face it: Finding the right doctor, gathering medical records and even understanding your doctor’s care instructions can be quite a headache. Receiving an unexpected medical bill only adds to the stress. These tips can help make your healthcare experience go a bit more smoothly.

Choose a provider in your plan’s network, which can save you money. Find out how long it takes to get an appointment, if they are available for medical issues after hours, and about online access to your doctor if you have questions.

Create a list of questions you want answered. Prioritize the list to ensure you ask the most important questions first within the limited time of your office visit.

Take notes or ask someone to go with you to listen in. Get the details about tests, procedures and treatment—including any side effects of medications.

Take along a personal health record, a list of medications and contact information for your other doctors.  Share your family history, giving your doctor insight into how to manage your care.

Consider if a specialist is necessary. If you have a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes or arthritis, for example, ask whether your primary doctor can take over your maintenance care, saving you costs on visits.

Visit an in-network urgent care center or mini clinic for non-emergency care. They can treat sprains, cuts and breaks, colds, fevers and other non-life threatening conditions for a fraction of the cost of visiting an ER. Plus, the wait is generally a lot shorter!

Ask your doctor about generic versions of prescribed drugs. You could save up to 80 percent on medication costs!

If applicable, enroll in your health plan’s mail order prescription drug service. Ordering a 90-day supply of a maintenance medication can be a real money-saver.

Is a treatment or a procedure on the horizon? Do your homework! Costs for medical procedures can vary dramatically, depending on the doctor and facility where they are performed. For example, an MRI at a large teaching hospital is likely to be more costly than having the very same procedure done at a stand-alone facility. Start by researching different hospitals and facilities to comparison-shop.

Double-check your hospital bills. Duplicate billing, charging for an incorrect number of days in the hospital, and incorrect room charges are common errors. Bring any discrepancies to the attention of the hospital or your doctor as soon as possible.