Be Your Own Patient Advocate Before Surgery

When planning for surgery it is useful to learn the art of being your own patient advocate. Today’s health and wellness industry has made it easy for us to obtain information to ensure we receive quality care. When we do our own thorough research ahead of time we can feel confident about having a positive surgery outcome.

How to be a patient advocate in navigating health insurance:

It is important to have a full understanding of your health insurance plan. Here are some of the things I learned this past year:

· When in need of a new insurance plan seek out a local insurance broker to help sort out the best plan for your specific needs. Free of charge, they help us attain emotional health about the coverage we choose. These agents know which plans do not raise their rates yearly, which ones are most appropriate to choose with pre-existing conditions, and which plans will be available long-term.

· Whenever you receive a new insurance plan you need to become your own patient advocate by reading through the policy right away. This will inform you if they have placed any restrictions on covering any of your current medical conditions. You do have 30 days to cancel the plan if you find the policy unacceptable.

· If a situation presents where you are not able to pay your medical bill you can make alternative payment arrangements. Those with financial hardships are able to reduce their hospital fees or perhaps waive them entirely.

How to be your own patient advocate for medical visits:

· The health and wellness industry has been great at educating us how to prepare ahead of time for a medical visit. Most of us have already experienced the value of writing down our questions before the visit. To optimize your limited time with the doctor I advise asking your practitioner only those questions they themselves can answer. As my own patient advocate I have learned to query other staff with the remainder of my questions. For example:

1. Direct inquiries about pre-post surgery issues to the surgery scheduler.

2. Ask the front desk staff how to obtain the morbidity & mortality statistics for the doctor and hospital.

· The health and wellness industry has encouraged us to have a trusted person with us during the medical visit. When another is present it allows them to become your patient advocate. I have found their presence vital since way too often my trusted friend brings up issues I failed to mention. It helps me take care of my emotional health when the trusted person is my scribe and documents the doctor’s comments.

· When you need a physician to submit a form (or write a letter) on your behalf it is best to prepare ahead of time. Here are a few examples:

1. When requesting a temporary handicapped parking permit find out ahead of time if the DMV requires you to download their form. If not, draft a letter with your request for the doctor to sign.

2. Whenever you need the doctor to write a letter confirming a medical condition it is best to become proactive as your own patient advocate. Arrive at the medical visit with a sample letter which includes all the pertinent information so you leave with it in-hand.

3. When you need a medical test ordered at another facility come prepared with the name of the facility and FAX number where the request can be sent.

When you follow these guidelines chances are greater you will leave the visit with total confidence that your needs are being handled.

How to be your own patient advocate before and after surgery:

· Know that you can request an early morning surgery when necessary. In taking care of your health and wellness inform the surgery scheduler of needs for early morning surgery if you have health issues that would be compromised when pre-surgery requirements forbid the intake of food or water. Prior to surgery it is best to take care of your emotional health and speed up the time your body is without nourishment.

· It is desirable to have a trusted friend stay in your hospital room overnight. If something unusual presents they can be of immediate value. Today hospitals have a chair that folds down into a bed for these specific purposes.

How to be your own patient advocate in finding the best surgeon:

· The health and wellness industry has made it easy for us to do research online. In your inquiry, seek out the latest state-of-the-art surgery technologies. After studying the various options you are more ready to select a surgeon.

· Search for doctors that use minimally invasive surgical techniques to reduce pain, restore mobility, and promote a quicker return to normal activities.

· In being your own patient advocate you may find the need to look outside your local area for a surgeon. Surgery is an invasive medical procedure. It is in your best interest to feel confident you will receive the highest quality of care.

· I encourage you to inquire how experienced your potential surgeon is. You want someone who has done the procedure hundreds of times to ensure the best outcome.

Hopefully you feel more feel confident about being your own patient advocate when planning for surgery. There are countless online resources available to help sort through the maze of information. Use these guidelines when seeking out what is available and you will find balance in your emotional health.

Advocate Flea Control – Because Pet Health Maintenance Includes Flea Protection

Fixed vs Adjustable Rates

Apples vs. oranges. Boxers vs. briefs. Dave Letterman vs. Jay Leno. These debates may rage on for decades, and we can add another one to the list: fixed vs. adjustable. We’re speaking, of course, of fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages.

Let’s start the discussion by talking about risk. If I had to pick one word that explained the mortgage industry, it would be risk. If you can understand the concept of risk and how it relates to mortgages, you’re way ahead of the game. In a nutshell, riskier loans mean higher interest rates; you compensate the person lending you money by paying them a higher interest rate. If you have low FICO scores, this is a higher risk to the investor since you don’t have a good history of paying your bills on time, so you’re going to have to pay a higher rate. If you can’t verify enough income to qualify for the loan, this is a higher risk and you’re going to have to pay a higher interest rate.

As it relates to this discussion, the longer you ask the lender to guarantee your interest rate, the higher risk for them since they’re guaranteeing the rate you get but they don’t know how much their funds are going to cost them going forward. This isn’t an easy concept to wrap your mind around, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it yet. Lenders work on a concept called arbitrage, which is a fancy way of saying they borrow money at a certain rate and then lend it out to you. However, lenders don’t get money at 30-year fixed rates, so when they borrow money they have to try to gauge what it’s going to cost them over the time they lend it to you. If you’re following me so far, you can understand why they would charge a higher rate to guarantee you a certain rate for 30 years as opposed to 3 or 5 years. Now, on to our discussion…

On the one hand, we have fixed rate advocates. These days, this is a relatively easy argument to make since rates are at 40-year lows. The main reason to get a fixed-rate mortgage, whether it be a 15-, 20-, or 30-year fixed, is to protect yourself from adjustable interest rates. When you get a fixed rate loan, you know exactly what your payments are going to be and they’re not going to change for the life of the loan. In a time when rates are rising, a fixed rate mortgage gives you the security of knowing that you’re safe.

On the other hand, there are the adjustable rate advocates. The main argument here, in a nutshell, is that you shouldn’t pay for something you don’t need. A great majority of people out there will only keep their mortgage for 3-5 years. Maybe it’s a job change, maybe it’s an expanding or contracting family, a refinance for home improvements or college for the kids, or any number of life circumstances. Since you’re probably not going to keep your mortgage for 15 or 30 years, you’re probably better off to get a lower adjustable rate mortgage and pocket the difference.

I’m not going to say one argument is better than the other. There’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” loan, but there are loans that are better or worse for certain people. In my career as a mortgage consultant, I can tell you that I’ve done very few fixed rate loans. I only recommend them in two cases – when people are on a fixed income and need to know exactly what to expect from their mortgage, or when people are absolutely sure that they’re not going to move or need to refinance for many, many years. In a great majority of cases, people don’t need a fixed rate loan and would in fact be much better off with a loan that accomplishes their goals and saves them money in the long term. Like oranges vs. apples or Letterman vs. Leno, fixed vs. adjustable is not a debate that can be definitively settled, but I hope I’ve helped you figure out which one may be right for you.