To help you to be an active participant in your health and healthcare I decided to share some of the tips I learned as a nurse, a case manager and as a patient. I hope they help you to be better prepared to handle healthcare challenges that may arise.
The last tip is specifically meant for each member of the healthcare team. I think I can speak for many patients and their caregivers and send this plea so they know how it important their help is in assisting consumers to navigate the complex world of healthcare.
Most insurance companies have their member handbook online, so they are accessible to all members. Take the time review the member handbook so you are familiar with the rules. If you have questions after you review the material, call your insurance company. Most questions can be answered by the customer care team who answers the phone. If your question cannot be answered at this level, ask to talk to a supervisor or if your question is medical in nature, ask to speak with a nurse. Every insurance company has nurses on staff whose role it is to handle medical questions for members.
Once transferred, I was under the care of an expert neurosurgeon who performed the biopsy to determine the type of tumor I had. Once the results came back from the brain biopsy, he coordinated my care with an expert hematologist who agreed to take my case. Even though I was a nurse and a fairly savvy healthcare professional, I did not have the mindset to help myself so engaging my colleagues (one was a case manager and one was a patient advocate) allowed me to get the right care, at the right time, by the right treatment team at the right facility. I truly believe their recommendations saved my life.