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How to get more out of your health care

Cynthia Haines, MD is a family physician and faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. She is also chief medical officer of HealthDay, a consumer news service that...

How to manage your health care

In the coming months and years, you will likely be shouldering more and more of the burden of health care expenses -- if it hasn’t happened to you already. This can be an unsettling concept, when good health can often feel out of our control. Accessing health care also costs you time and energy -- arguably much more important than money. Believe it or not, you really can stay healthier for less money and with less use of the health care system. Here’s how.

Woman introducing herself to doctor

What can the American health care system do for you today?

If you're sick, injured or facing a serious, or even terminal condition, you have numerous treatment options. From medications to surgery to complementary and alternative medicine, the health care system has you covered -- but at what cost?


How to get more out of your health care

Getting more while using less health care essentially requires four straightforward steps:

Health care step #1

Work with your primary health care provider

You simply must develop a trusting relationship with a primary care provider who clicks with you. Then you must be an active participant in your care.

Health care step #2

Take charge of your health

It's time to realize that better health isn't something that the doctor gives you in a pill bottle. Being healthy is something you can and should provide yourself, with some occasional assistance from your doctor.

Health care step #3

Relax about some things, but be proactive about others

In short, when it comes to your health, direct your time, energy and money to problems only as necessary.

The New PrescriptionHealth care step #4

Be a smart shopper

More people are realizing that when they schedule a surgery or visit their doctor, they're buying goods and services, just as though they were taking their car to the shop. As more people seek to cut their health costs by comparison shopping, more hospitals and doctors who want their business will give them the information they need.

My upcoming book, The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System, provides a multitude of tips and techniques to help you harness your inner power to navigate the often overwhelming health care system. Hopefully, with these four starting points, you will be able to get more out of the current system and – ideally – begin to need it less.

More on getting the most out of your health care

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