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Book Review How to Get the Health Care You Want by Laura Casey

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Everyone has been there; frustrated after a visit to the doctor. You got treated like a number, not a sick person in need of compassion. We’ve all dealt with it, but what do you do? Well, thanks to Laura Casey’s How to Get the Health Care You Want, you have the resources you need at your fingertips to take charge of your health care.

The basic premise here is pretty simple: it is ultimately the patient’s responsibility to make sure their health care is satisfactory. Most hospitals have a “Patient’s Bill of Rights” that includes liaisons, patient representatives, and ways for patients to express concern or seek assistance. But how many of us have used the tools available to us? Unfortunately, when we’re being mistreated is when we need the care and compassion of a qualified, concerned provider the most.

Ms. Casey has been through this and has taken the time to gather all the tools necessary to take control of our own health care. In How to Get the Health Care You Want, Ms. Casey has outlined the basic reasons most people put up with bad and poorly managed care. But she also points out that although we’ve tolerated poor or bad quality in the past, we don’t need to going forward. Even if you don’t want to change doctors, you don’t have to “take it”. With the proper techniques, and documentation, you can request some change out of your doctor’s office. If your doctor is worth their salt, they’ll not only be happy you spoke up, but they’ll seek to rectify any wrongdoing.

In How to Get the Health Care You Want, Ms. Casey not only explains up front why we shouldn’t tolerate poor quality when it comes to our care, but she actually manages to explain it all in a very tangible, and measurable means. She has created a way to gauge quality by equating it to “anxiety points” and “lost lifetime”. By tracking anxiety points, you’re able to graph how doctors and their staff either ease their patients’ fears, or stress them more. And by counting your lost lifetime, you’re able to quantify just how much time you’ve wasted on poor and mismanaged health care. When you record all these markers in the ways outlined in the book, you see just how much or how little your provider is really doing to help you.

Of course, holding your physician accountable for your time and how much they eased your nerves is only a small portion of the steps you need to take in order to ensure that your care is up to the standards you expect. While it is important to let your doctor know if his/her receptionist kept you on hold for 20 minutes, there is much more to maintaining a healthy relationship with your physician. You’ve got to also make sure that you give your doctor the right information the first time. I know I’ve had several occasions where it’s seemed like I tell two or three different people the same story before I recite the story yet again for the doctor. Or getting frustrated telling the doctor about an iodine allergy after telling every nurse I’ve seen. While the book doesn’t claim to fix all those ills, it does contain the tools to help. Chapter 6 will help you outline your own set of medical records. It’s great for documenting allergies, prior surgeries, etc. I certainly intend to take those with me for my next appointment with my family doctor.

The book is also full of information to help you find the appropriate resources should you need to investigate a new doctor, or to report a bad one. While we all hope it’s never necessary, sometimes we do get bad care. And Ms. Casey has taken the time to outline all the local stateside contacts necessary to report a nurse or physician should it be called for.

And saving the best for last, How to Get the Health Care You Want also has a chapter dedicated to helping understand insurance and flexible spending accounts. While no one wants to come right out and say it, our insurance companies don’t dictate which doctors we can go to, just the ones they pay. And for those of us not independently wealthy, who our insurance considers a provider is VERY important. So using our insurance doctors, and understanding our plan choices, is vital.

This is a must-read for anyone needing health care. We would all like to believe we don’t need to see the doctor, or that all doctors and their staff members are wonderful caregivers incapable of mismanagement. Unfortunately that’s not the case. But with a tool like How to Get the Health Care You Want to help, taking control of our own health care is easier, and more understandable, than ever.

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