Be Your Own Health Advocate

Posted On January 5, 2016
Categories Uncategorized

As a college student, you might be new to making your own decisions in terms of healthcare. For many students, parents and other family members guided decision making about health, including understanding diagnoses, choosing treatment, knowing medical history and understanding how health insurance works. Becoming your own health advocate can be overwhelming at first, but it gets easier as you practice. By advocating for your own health, you not only gain a greater sense of control, but also an increased confidence over your decisions, greater medical literacy and better health outcomes overall (U.S. News).

Below is a list of examples of how you can be your own health advocate this year:

  • Understand your health insurance. Health insurance can be confusing and difficult to comprehend.

    A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 4 in 10 respondents don’t understand basic health insurance terms, and even fewer could calculate how much a patient would owe under certain hospitalization circumstances

    – U.S. News
    Make sure that you’re aware of the cost of your deductible. Being aware of how your health insurance works can help save you time, effort and unexpected medical bills. If you are an enrolled Georgia State University student, you can see a provider at the Student Health Clinic free of charge, regardless of your insurance status.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Visits with providers are often short and can feel rushed. In preparation for your appointment, it may help for you to make a list of questions that you’d like to ask your doctor. List questions in order of priority, so you can ask the most important questions first. Having a tangible list will help insure that you get all of your questions answered.
  • Maintain your own records. If you’ve ever switched doctors or seen a specialist, you know what a hassle it can be to have your records transferred. With the growing prevalence of electronic health records, maintaining your own copies is easier than ever. By keeping tabs on your own documents, you won’t have to worry as much about them getting lost in the shuffle, and you can see exactly what your doctors are seeing. This can include medical reports, x-rays, receipts for services, etc.
  • Utilize your resources. Take advantage of the Student Health Clinic’s free and low-cost services for Georgia State University students. If you have the symptoms of a common cold, the flu or another common virus, make an appointment to see a clinician on campus. The clinic office visit is free. However, there are additional charges for pharmacy needs, laboratory tests, medical procedures and immunizations. For more information, visit Fees, Payment & Insurance.
  • Know your history. Make sure that you know your personal medical history as well as your family medical history. This information is important to making sure your diagnosis is correct. Be prepared to answer questions about what medicines you’re taking, past surgeries you’ve had and if you have any allergies. Also, you may be asked if any conditions run in your family, such as specific cancers, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.