Here are all the articles I wrote during May, 2013. I hope they're useful to you.

May 14th, 2013

Did the doctor tell you… ?

… that you’re entitled to every bit of information in your own medical records? Thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), that’s one of your rights as a patient. Ask yourself: “Do I really know what’s in my medical records?”, and if you don’t, then make sure you get a copy of your chart!

It’s just fine to be picky with your doctors, and to demand clear information from them. First of all, this transparency from your doctor builds trust, and can help you both understand one another more clearly. It can be much more motivating to comply with your doctor’s orders once you know why they’re making them! Access to your records also allows you more opportunity to think critically about your needs, which in turn helps you ask better questions and ensures better care.  You can spot mistakes as they happen and get them immediately corrected (yes, doctors make chart note mistakes all the time).

Furthermore, if you decide you need a second opinion for anything, or if you see multiple specialists, needing a copy of your records can be a terribly inconvenient delay, so it’s ideal to have them around! In the worst scenarios, if you feel your doctor’s care for you just isn’t good enough, your records can be a useful tool for determining where the problem lies and whether you should look for a new doctor.

As the world of health insurance changes, it’s likely that your doctor will have less and less time to spend with you.  So make every moment count!   Before I leave every doctor’s office I get a copy of that day’s chart notes.  It’s my right — and yours — to have them.  Be bold and don’t let anyone deny you yours. It’s your …

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May 6th, 2013

Is Congress trying to hide from the Affordable Care Act?

Starting 1/1/14, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will make Congress members and their staffs buy their own health insurance (for the first time ever!).  And they have to use the new public exchanges to do it.   BUT..  they’re all in a tizzy about what it’s going to cost them and are looking for ways to squirrel out of participating in the law that they passed.

These exchanges, also known as “marketplaces,” are part of the ACA, and are being established by 19 states (the rest are letting the federal government run it for them), presumably so that everyone will have a simple, easy way to compare and select competitively priced health insurance coverage.   So far, there’s nothing simple or easy — or affordable — about it!

Currently, the federal government pays for health insurance for those on Capitol Hill.   But the ACA changes the rules that govern how they buy their insurance.  They could be paying for their own insurance… just like the rest of us!   It’s likely that this could cause a number of politicians to get out of Washington in favor of rejoining the working class!   Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Finance Committee which wrote the ACA has already announced he’ll be resigning next year!!   Read all about their reactions to their own rules in this Politico article.

Of course, a lot is still in the TBD pile – including just how much our friends in Congress and their aides will be treated like the rest of us when it comes to getting a helping hand with their health insurance premiums.  These ever-changing health insurance regulations are also presenting a lot of confusion for many of us regular consumers.   A lot of people are concerned that buying health insurance through the marketplaces will increase their …

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