Healthy Habits

Discover Patient Empowerment

husband and wife reviewing benefits options

Content provided by the GBS Health & Wellness Team

Healthcare consumerism is a movement that advocates for patients’ involvement in their own healthcare decisions. It pushes the healthcare system to provide better information and transparency so patients can make educated decisions about their health and health benefits.

As healthcare costs rise, so do health insurance premiums and deductibles. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that since 2010, deductibles have risen by 111% and family premiums have gone up 55%. Rising healthcare costs are turning once passive healthcare consumers into active consumers. Join the movement by advocating for and being involved in your healthcare decisions. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Choose and Understand Your Medical Plan. Does your employer offer more than one medical plan? Does your spouse/partner have employer-sponsored healthcare benefits? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, research, and do your homework before deciding on a plan. Some questions to consider as you prepare to make this decision include:

  • How much did you spend on healthcare last year (premium, deductible, and out-of-pocket cost)?
  • Is your current provider in-network?
  • Are your current medications covered?

Maximize Your Benefits. Don’t forget preventive care services are covered at 100%. Learn what preventive visits and screenings are appropriate for you by exploring health.gov/myhealthfinder. Review your benefit guide for other benefits that may be offered for free or at a discounted rate, such as nutrition counseling, physical therapy, telehealth, employee assistance program, or condition management programs.

Know Where to Go. One of the easiest ways to save on healthcare costs is understanding where to go to receive care.

  • Your primary care provider should be your first stop for preventive care, ongoing care, and undiagnosed conditions. You can call your primary care provider for a sick visit that isn’t an emergency.
  • Urgent care is perfect for nonemergency situations that happen outside of normal business hours. Typically, they have less waiting time, more convenient locations, and are significantly less expensive than visiting the emergency room (ER). Some situations where you would go to an urgent care facility include minor fractures, x-rays, fever, sinus pain, or flu symptoms.
  • The emergency room (ER) is for emergency situations and life-threatening conditions such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, stroke, head trauma, severe bleeding, or loss of vision.

Check out www.gohealthuc.com/library/ucvser for more information on urgent care vs. emergency room visits.

Shop Around. Some doctors and locations are more expensive than others. Don’t forget to stay in-network and utilize cost-comparison tools. Pharmacy tools like GoodRX or CostPlus help find the least expensive option or potential coupons for prescriptions. Quality Check can show what organizations have received the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval®. Joint Commission is the global driver of quality improvement and patient safety in healthcare.

https://www.ache.org/blog/2021/consumerism-and-the-empowered-patient-experience

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