New Year, Same Healthcare? Five Healthcare Resolutions for 2019

With the holiday season behind us, it’s time to focus on the new year and with that a new set of resolutions. HIP put together a list of five healthcare goals for 2019. (Don’t worry they aren’t about losing weight or exercising more). Although the healthcare system may not be changing, you can change how you interact with it! HIP’s new year’s resolutions are simple steps to help improve your interactions with the healthcare system!

With the holiday season behind us, it’s time to focus on the new year and with that a new set of resolutions. HIP put together a list of five healthcare goals for 2019. (Don’t worry they aren’t about losing weight or exercising more). HIP’s new year’s resolutions are simple steps to help improve your interactions with the healthcare system!

Join us for a healthcare inclined new year!

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#1 Find (and see) your healthcare team!

Your team is made up of your primary care physician (PCP), dentist, eye doctor, mental health professional, and any other medical professional you need to see on a regular basis. Don’t know where to start? Check out HIP’s guide on finding a primary care physician. Once you secure a PCP, you can also ask them to help you fill out your team. HIP’s guide can also be applied to any kind of medical professional. If you’re still stalling, set achievable deadlines for yourself like setting up an appointment by the end of the month.

If you don’t like your doctor, dentist, therapist, etc. find a different person to see! Your time and energy are valuable and you should feel good about each healthcare professional that treats you. It’s so important to have a good relationship with the people who help you stay healthy. If you aren’t happy, don’t stay!

 

#2 Understand your Health Benefits

Take time early in the year to read through your insurance benefits–and challenge yourself to actually understand them. You can use HIP’s health plans 101 guide to help you understand your cost-sharing structure. Key Questions to know the answer to:

  • Do you have a deductible you need to reach?
  • What is your maximum out of pocket cost?
  • Do you have an FSA or HSA this year? If so, how are you planning to spend the money?

 

#3 Put your Health Benefits in your Hand (A.K.A Your Phone)

Make your health benefits easy to access by putting them on your phone. Here’s how:

  • Download your insurance company’s app if there’s one available (United Healthcare, Anthem, Humana, Aetna, Molina Healthcare, BCBS, among others offer apps). These apps allow you to quickly and easily look at your medical, dental, and vision benefits. You can use this information to make cost-saving decisions on where, when and how, you seek care.
  • If your insurance company doesn’t offer an app, you can instead download the PDF “summary of benefits and coverage” and save it to your desktop or email it to yourself and save it on your phone.

Why do this? Knowing how to quickly and easily access your benefits is an important healthcare skill. You can reference this information to understand how you can access care for the lowest price.

I recently had an MRI and it would have been fully covered with just a low copay. Unfortunately, I didn’t read through my benefits before scheduling the MRI appointment (everyone makes mistakes). After my MRI, I was charged a $150 fee because I had it done in a hospital rather than a stand alone imaging center. If I’d gone to a stand alone center, I would have only paid the inexpensive copay.

Looking at your benefits can inform healthcare decisions like where you should get blood work or other testing done, whether you should go to the ER or an urgent care, and other important questions.

 

#4 Reevaluate your Medication Use

We are inundated with over the counter and prescription medication — which is great for the times we need it. With the new year, consider evaluating your current medication use. A few points to consider:

If you’re using a branded prescription drug, consider a exploring generic options: Are you on a brand prescription drug that may have generic alternatives? Generic drugs are more affordable and have the same impact as brand name drugs (actually the exact same impact–unlike generic toilet paper or generic oreos). If you’re using a brand name drug, you can search to see if there are generic alternatives on drugs.com. You can also talk to your doctor about it. Every year, new generics become available, so if you’re on a drug that didn’t have a generic option when you started taking it, double check there isn’t a new, more affordable generic available. Goodrx.com reported that 43 drugs will go generic in the next four years (2019-2022).

If you’re using a prescription drug, consider an over the counter (OTC) alternative: Some over the counter drugs offer similar benefits to some prescription medications–and they’re much cheaper! Consumer reports has a comprehensive list of cheaper OTC remedies that may beat some expensive prescription medications. Many people who previously used prescription allergy medications now use over the counter products. However, always talk to your doctor before switching between medications.

To the ladies–reconsider your birth control options: Although birth control is covered by all insurance plans, it doesn’t mean you can’t consider new or different options. If you’re 100% happy there is no reason to switch, but if not, take the new year as a reason to finally talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist about it! Mayo Clinic has a great article on things to consider when selecting a birth control method.

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#5 Pledge to be honest with your doctor

A 2015 ZocDoc survey showed that almost half of all Americans have avoided telling their doctor about a health issue because they were embarrassed or afraid of being judged. Around a third withheld details because they couldn’t find the right opportunity or didn’t have enough time during the appointment to share. Being honest with your doctor is an incredibly important step to being in control of your own healthcare. It is your body and your health — you do not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell your doctor about your lived experience. Honesty with your doctor allows for better care and ultimately better health. So, as hard as it may be to tell your doctor you never exercise, or your dentist that you only floss before your annual appointment, do it! Trust me, they will not judge, and if they do… see goal #1!

 

TLDR:

HIP’s 5 healthcare resolutions:

  1. Find and see a primary care doctor, dentist, and any other medical professionals you need to see
  2. Read through your benefits and challenge yourself to understand your coverage
  3. Download your summary of benefits to your computer or download your insurance company’s app to your phone
  4. Reevaluate your medication use to see if there are any cost savings opportunities
  5. Pledge to be honest with your doctor

 

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