Make your doctor a partner in your healthier lifestyle
For most of us, an apple a day is not enough to keep us out of the doctor’s office. From aches and pains to coughs we can’t shake, visits to a primary care physician have long been an important avenue to resolve immediate health issues and address potential long-term problems. This year, participants in employer-based health plans are likely to see an additional incentive, as provisions in the Affordable Care Act have made it easier for employers to encourage employee health by subsidizing premiums for those who engage in healthy living habits. Many 2014 health care plan participants, including Texas A&M University System employees, are seeing two-tiered pricing tied to an annual physical.
But an additional incentive on your insurance shouldn’t be the only reason you visit the doctor this year. By scheduling a visit with your doctor, you are taking charge of your own health. Regular examinations by a physician can help catch problems early, when treatment options may be most effective. A doctor can also provide you with health guidance suitable to your age, physical condition, and personal risk factors that will help you lead a healthier, longer life.
“Everyone should be attentive to their body and their health,” says Dr. Kory Gill, a sports medicine specialist and head of the Family Medicine Residency Program at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “A healthy diet, sufficient exercise, and healthy habits can all elude us as we juggle our daily roles and responsibilities. Ideally, a doctor is there to evaluate and address a problem area in your life before it becomes a bigger health issue. The best plan of action is to discuss this issue with your doctor to determine the best schedule for regular visits considering your unique problems and needs.”
To get the most from any doctor’s visit, Gill suggests writing down questions in advance to ensure you remember to discuss them, and bringing all prescription medications you take to ensure he or she has all the information needed.
“Patients should be getting the most out of every visit to their doctor,” he says. “Discuss any ongoing health concerns you have during the visit, and be aware of the tests that your doctor is performing to ensure that any health issues are caught early on.”
Additionally, says Gill, doctors and patients must discuss how to respond to early symptoms of potential health issues with open eyes. “Aggressive treatment is not always best,” Gill says. “Doctors and patients must be aware of the risks and benefits of each treatment option.”