06 May 2008

Health Wealth

For those of use who are fortunate to receive health care benefits and have access to adequate medical care, let me ask you this; are you using it? Health care is one of the primary issues on the political climate today, but it's not an issue that is new; just one that has been brought to the forefront of late. There are varying reasons why it's a hot topic, but I'm going to share my two cents on the subject.

So, for those of us who pay for health care benefits and have access to good doctors and medical facilities, why are there so many who aren't using what they're paying for? How many people go to their primary care doctor for an annual checkup or women go to their GYN? I'm appalled at the number of people who don't see their doctors at least annually. So, why are people bitching and griping about a service they're paying for and still won't and don't use it? In a word; stupidity.

My intent it not to insult anyone, but to advocate health wealth. We sit around talking about relationships, which celeb is doing what to/with whom, but how many are talking about health care? I'd hazard a guess that the numbers are few. I recently had a conversation with a dear friend who informed me that she hasn't seen a GYN in years. I was stunned! When she told me about the problems she was having, I advised her that she needs to immediately seek a doctor and undergo some tests to isolate the issue. She informed me that she has excellent benefits and gap insurance should she have to be out of work for an extended period of time. So, my question to her was, "why aren't you using what you're paying for?" Her reply, "I don't know." Followed by, "my doctor moved and I haven't found a new one." It was at this point, the term "health wealth" came to me. Health wealth is the sharing of information that can be useful to another person in need of health care services and may not know where to go or have a point of reference.

In the continued conversation with my friend, I shared with her the story of a friend who had good health care benefits and 1) didn't adequately use it and 2) ignored the signs her body was given her and when she finally sought help, she had to have the most drastic procedure available in order to improve her quality of life and relieve her of the problems she'd been having for years. Issues like this are prevalent in our society and community.

We must start talking about real issues; issues that affect our lives and our health. We must stop ignoring the signs our bodies send us and we should seek assistance from our friends/family when we need to find a new doctor or medical facility. As a race, we're deficit in receiving adequate health care and we make it worse, but not taking care of our health concerns until it's too late. The internet provides a wealth of information where we can find the basis for some of the things that affect our health. We can speak with others who might have shared their health problems and ask them for references so we can find a doctor suitable to our needs. In addition and most importantly, we must communicate our needs to our medical providers. We have to ask questions about the tests they're sending us for; we must maintain our own records of test results and use them as a baseline for future tests; and if the service being provided for us is rushed or lacks proper explanation, then we reserve the right to withdraw ourselves from that doctor. Furthermore, we are paying for the service no differently than we would for service for our vehicles, so we must express dissatisfaction appropriately in order to receive the care we require.

We need to inquire with our family members about their health and communicate anything that seems out of the norm with our doctors. It's important for doctors to know if there's a family history or a particular illness and if you don't know; ask. We must stop keep "family secrets" when it comes to health issues because without the knowledge, our treatment options can be greatly reduced. It's also important for us to attend health care fairs where many screenings are provided free of charge and the results are given immediately. Another thing that we should consider participating in are clinical trials for medicines or treatment options. Why? Because these trials provide the foundation for whether a medicine can be used within a field of treatment or if you're already being treated for a medical condition, you're on the forefront of improved treatment options.

There are many things that we can do to play a pivotal role in the way we receive medical care; however, the primary is communication. Please take the time to get to your doctors; follow up on health care issues; encourage your friends and family to seek medical help, and stop being afraid. Fear plays another role in health care practices and we must stop being afraid to know if we have something wrong. As the saying goes; "Early detection means early cure"



Shai said...

I am guilty of only using my health provider for my annual Gyn checkup and if I or my child gets sick. My daughter rarely gets sick enough for the doctor. Thank God I have not had to go like I used to. I used to go at least 3 times a year for ear, nose, annd throat issues.

Don said...

I work for a healthcare leader. That's how they trained us to say it. lol. And I do not attend regualr checkups. I guess I am afraid to find out that I am about to die or something. Seriously, you make valid and warning points which I can respect. I do need to do a better job @ this. In fact I know this sumer I will go and get my eyes and prostrate checked. That is a start.

I didn't know you had written two blog post. I didn't know what was going on.

Blu Jewel said...

Shai - I commend you for at least doing your GYN exam, but there are so many other things you need baselines for. I urge you to get them. Kudos on having a healthy child, but don't ignore tests that are age appropriate for her and talk to your family about health issues.

Don - Healthcare leader...that's interesting. Please ensure you get your checkups and screenings. Too many of us wait until it's too late or the symptoms have progressed to the drastic measures state. You have the inside track on healthcare; be proactive.


achali said...

shoot... i wish i HAD healthcare.

Believer 1964 said...

I've always been diligent about checkups and making appointments.

I have a medical file that I keep for myself and recently went through it before a scheduled appointment. It gave me an edge when asking questions about treatment related to other medical issues. Furthermore, I did my homework sharing with him some risks I knew about.

Thanks to you, many will schedule for those overdue checkups.

Blu Jewel said...

achali - you are one of the people my heart goes out to because you want something that you actually NEED and I'm sure you'd use it if you had it. Meanwhile, there are so many who have it and don't use it.

believer - you're one of the people I'm most proud of because you have taken that proactive stand for yourself and your family and you stay on top of being healthy.


chele said...

I hate going to the doctor. They are inconsiderate of my time and always schedule a follow-up for seemingly no reason.

THAT BEING SAID ... In the past seven months I have been to my primary care doctor twice, the eye doctor twice and the dentist twice. This does not include the visits for the kids. I may hate the doctor but I have GREAT insurance and I'll be damned if I'm not going to use what I'm paying for.

Don said...

@ blu jewel: you're right. i need to do better.

Blu Jewel said...

chele - i feel you on drs being inconsiderate of your time and that's something i've conveyed to mine in order to get an idea of the best times to go. Kudos to you for making good use of your insurance.

Don - I'm sure after this you will. And if not, my next health post certainly will.


Mizrepresent said...

Great post Blu, you are so right, i was just thinking that i need to go get my annual check up soon, i'm about 4 mos behind! But i do utilize it, so many don't. My parents are those people, but they are doing better now!