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Be a Health Care Consumer

The word "consumer" can be found in almost any article that we read in the paper or magazine these days. Offers to help us choose the best dishwasher, or the best university for our child's education are everywhere.

But where can we find information about being a good health care consumer. Did you ever think of yourself as a consumer in the are of healthcare? The dictionary tells us that a consumer is one who buys, and we do pay for our healthcare, although sometimes it comes as a benefit of our employment. It is reasonable to think that we would strive to get the most from our purchase, and that it would work to our advantage. In the same way, it is reasonable that we would want to find ways to stretch our dollar when it comes to health care.

Although there are not a lot of resources out there on this topic, there is a non-profit group called CONSUMERS UNION, which is affiliated with CONSUMERS REPORT. Its mission is to help educate and advise the public so they can make wise decisions in the areas of healthcare, food safety and financial services. They can be found online at: www.consumersunion.org

There are many seminars available to educate the consumer, many at low or no cost. How do you determine if these seminars are real or fake? Usually, if you stay with seminars that are sponsored by healthcare facilities or providers, you can be secure in the legitimacy of the information that is provided. Although, these seminars may be a marketing tool, to inform about services provided by the sponsor, they will probably also include much information that will be useful to you. You may be gaining much of the same information that may have otherwise cost you a consultative appointment with that particular specialist.

There are also an abundance of online sites for health information. With the same careful consideration about the sponsor of the site, you can feel secure that the information that you are reading is fairly legitimate, although again, may be a marketing tool. It would be reasonable to stick to those sites sponsored by a university or other educational facility, rather than a site that is trying to sell a product.

We are taught to weigh differences in the products that we buy on the market, and we can use those same skills when choosing a physician or a health care plan.

When making decisions about a health care provider, often they will allow you to come in for a consultative appointment, where you can meet the physician, and learn about his practice and his philosophy in treating, and referring patients. Although he or she will not be able to give you direct medical advice without examining you and knowing your medical history, you will be able to determine if this provider can meet you and your family's needs.

When you choose a health care plan, many of the same questions, as well as some of the following:

By assessing the needs of you and your family, and taking advantage of seminars and educational offerings around your, you can make wise choices and become a savvy health care consumer.