Should you check your symptoms before your doctor’s appointment?

If you are like me, you may occasionally “Google” your medical symptoms. Now apps are available to help you check your symptoms systematically rather than randomly.

Recently, a WSJ article noted “Now more health-care providers are… steering patients to new and improved computerized symptom-checkers that make it easier for them to get reliable information about possible diagnoses, research their condition and even connect directly to a doctor. Doctors are adding these tools to their websites and incorporating them into electronic medical records, encouraging patients to use them before office visits to save time and make consultations more productive. Another benefit: Results turned up by a symptom-checker may actually help doctors think of something they hadn’t considered.”

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Tell your doctor about your travel history

A recent Modern Health Care article noted “The key is getting that travel history right up front when you’re interviewing the patient and then as soon as you suspect MERS—even before you do the testing—you should make sure you have that patient on isolation precautions so they don’t spread to any other patients or healthcare workers.”

“The major lesson from this first MERs experience in the U.S. for other healthcare providers is “to think about MERS you really need to get a good travel history..,”.

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Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a common injury found in tennis players and other sports. The pain is on the outside of the elbow, where the wrist extensor muscles originate, and is usually tender when palpated. The pain is worsened with hand shaking, opening jars, using a knife or fork or even using a toothbrush. Tennis elbow is more common in males, and those in the range of 30-50 years of age. It is important, however, to remember that people outside this age range also get tennis elbow frequently. Tennis players make up the majority of cases, but it is also found among baseball players, gardeners, house or office cleaners, carpenters, mechanics, and golfers.

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Often “primary care doctors’ appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals”

“Some physicians who work for hospitals say they’ve been asked to see patients every 11 minutes.”

A recent Kaiser Health News article noted “ Patients – and physicians – say they feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates to see more patients and perform more procedures to make up for flat or declining reimbursements.” “

“Doctors have one eye on the patient and one eye on the clock….”

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Be prepared with the questions you want to ask your doctor & make sure you understand the answers before you leave

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published lists of questions you should consider before, during and after an appointment with your doctor.

“You can make sure you get the best possible care by being an active member of your health care team. Being involved means being prepared and asking questions. Asking questions about your diagnoses, treatments, and medicines can improve the quality, safety, and effectiveness of your health care. Taking steps before your medical appointments will help you to make the most of your time with your doctor and health care team.”

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If you go to the ER and stay in the hospital, don’t assume you have been admitted

Not so! You can be in a hospital bed for several days without actually being admitted with personal financial consequences.

Recently a New York Times article “ noted: “ But it turns out that even though you are receiving treatment in a hospital bed, you may simply be under observation, and technically are still an outpatient. That can cost you money if you are covered under Medicare, the federal health plan for older Americans.”

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Narrow networks… keep premiums lower but…..

A recent Associated Press vignette noted: “MIAMI — The first thing Michelle Pool did before picking a plan under President Barack Obama’s health insurance law was check whether her longtime primary care doctor was covered. Pool, a 60-year-old diabetic who has had back surgery and a hip replacement, purchased the plan only to find that the insurer was mistaken.”

“Pool’s $352 a month gold plan through Covered California’s exchange was cheaper than what she’d paid under her husband’s insurance and seemed like a good deal because of her numerous pre-existing conditions. But after her insurance card came in the mail, the Vista, California resident learned her doctor wasn’t taking her new insurance.”

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If you do not buy health insurance you will get billed by the doctor, ER, and hospital

Choosing not to buy health insurance as required by Obamacare will result in IRS penalties withheld when you file your income tax returns. But you will still get billed by your doctor, the ER and the hospital – which could affect your credit rating, and in the case of an expensive emergency hospital admission put you into enormous long term debt if not bankruptcy.

Recently NPR published FAQs on “Understanding The Health Insurance Mandate And Penalties For Going Uninsured”. For example:

“Do I have to carry health insurance? Yes, just about everyone is required to have insurance as of Jan. 1, 2014, or else they’ll be liable for a tax penalty. That coverage can be supplied through your job (including COBRA or a retirement plan), public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid or the VA, or an individual policy that you purchase.

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