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MedPageToday reports that the healthcare system is on its brink, with more demand than could ever be addressed. Finding the kind of care you need can be challenging in such a situation – both from others and yourself. That’s why you must become your own advocate and speak up for yourself. Want to learn how you can do this? Here are five ways.

Understand Your Health Goals

Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is health advocacy? A health advocate takes control of their healthcare and the experience and decisions that come with it. You speak up with your questions and needs and clarify your concerns and preferences. This helps you and your doctors make qualified, effective decisions about your health. To start the process, take some time to think about your health goals – including questions on the quality of life or what matters most to you regarding health. Listing these goals can help clarify your needs.

Be Open and Honest

According to the National Institute of Aging, it is prudent to provide your doctor with all the information they need on your health. Let your doctor know about details on symptoms, prescriptions, past medical history, drug allergies, and any other factors relating to your health. They may also ask about any changes in your health regarding appetite, energy levels, or sleep. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, too. Remember – there’s no such thing as a wrong question when it comes to your health! Essentially, you want to ensure you haven’t left out any details that may be critical to your care.

Don’t Forget to Do Your Homework

Having a great physician supporting you will be critical in your advocacy. Still, it’s equally as important you do your health homework. In addition to referring to your doctor, do your own research on symptoms, treatment options, optimal lifestyle changes, and more. Research any prescriptions your doctor has prescribed so you can ask informed questions and understand the full consequences of the treatment. Doing this will also help you discover alternate treatments and forms of therapy, which can be helpful down the line.

Keep Your Records Handy

It’s ideal to begin creating a notebook or document with all your records handy. You can then take this with you every time you visit your doctor. This dossier should include all essential documents like policy, ID card, and your insurer’s contact information. You can also keep past lab test results such as X-rays or past prescriptions. Maintaining an online version of these documents will also help you access your records on the go. Free online tools will help you keep your records organized and accessible. Add pages to your PDF using a free PDF editor tool to keep everything in one file.

Understand How Your Health Insurance Works

Understanding your insurance coverage and how it works will be another critical way to take control of your health. Healthcare is expensive, so it’s to your benefit to understand all the coverage options available to you. After all, your health insurance determines the kind of treatments you can take and the physicians available to you. When you examine your coverage details correctly, you may need to update it or make changes that fit your lifestyle. For those that often travel, for example, adding an emergency travel membership to help get you home in case of a critical illness or injury while abroad can be vital.

Becoming your own health advocate can help you feel more in control of your health and ongoing care. You will also live a healthier, longer life than those who let others make all their health decisions. So, what’re you waiting for? It’s time to get confident about your health and speak up today!

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Contributor Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher and enjoys sharing lesson plans, resources, and teaching tips on Teacher Spark. Her website is a compilation of practical resources that will inspire student engagement and instill a love for learning. By tapping into a student’s natural creativity and curiosity, Joyce believes that they can take their education to a new level. Thank you, Joyce!

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