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You MUST Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate: Here’s Why…

These days the medical system can seem like a confusing, complicated system to navigate. High volumes of patients, long hours for practitioners and the need to communicate across numerous different types of healthcare providers can make things difficult for not only you as a patient, but also for medical professionals.

According to a 2016 analysis published by the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal), if “medical error” was classified as a disease, it would rank as the third leading cause of death in the US!! (Source)

What does this mean? It means our medical professionals are human and sometimes make mistakes. OF COURSE listen to your doctor, but you also need to be your own informed health advocate. On top of that, those who code medical bills can and sometimes do make mistakes that can be the difference between having a procedure covered or not and obtaining government reimbursement for some services.

Let’s talk about steps you can take to protect yourself from potential medical error…

1. Ask Questions

Be prepared when meeting with your doctor. What are the benefits of a suggested procedure or course of treatment? What are the side effects of drugs your being prescribed? Are there other options available? Why are we deciding to take this course over others? Bring a list of questions!

Ask “What does that mean?” Doctors are often forced, by the system and patient-load, to be efficient…be prepared with your questions to get them all answered in order of priority because you likely only have a short time with your doctor face-to-face.

2. Do your research

Although you must carefully navigate to reputable websites, the internet can be a wealth of information. If you find something that might be helpful, or a concern, print it off and bring it to your doctor.

3. Maintain your own records

Navigating through the health system and referrals can bring along with it a level of complication in having your records transferred. Maintain a copy of your own records just in case! Many hospital systems now have apps that hold your medical information, billing, and more. Apple products now even have a health app to assist.

4. Review your medical bills for errors

In the end, bills are based off of coding which are entered by humans. Humans can make mistakes. Double-check all of your bills especially if you are a self-pay claim. Insurance companies often have staff that review all bills but mistakes can still happen there too.

Be your own advocate and take your health, and billing, into your own hands or get professional assistance in complicated cases if necessary.

5. Advocacy services

Insurance can be confusing, to say the least. Insurance companies offer health advocates to help navigate their services but their responsibility is still to the bottom line of the insurance company.

For serious events and concerns, consider seeking out a private healthcare advocate which has responsibility to YOUR bottom line and will help manage your health needs. There is a cost to a private advocate, of course, but they can assist with things from scheduling and attending doctor’s appointments with you, to researching medical treatments and handling insurance claims.

6. Get a second opinion

“C’s get degrees”…Like any profession, not all professionals are created equal. When in doubt with your doctor’s prognosis, seek out a second opinion. We put our faith in our doctors, but just like anybody, sometimes even they get it wrong.

The New-Agers were Right?? It’s All in Your Head?

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.

~ Henry Ford

Well not-so-new-age thinker Mr. Ford, it turns out, was more correct than he knew! We’ve gathered up several studies alongside our personal, experiential knowledge to draw a picture for you that truly puts YOU in the driver seat (pun definitely intended).

Mindset

“Mindset” is the established set of attitudes held by someone, whether it is either negative or positive. You cannot have a positive life with a negative mindset. Your mindset not only determines your entire outlook on life and how you handle situations, but it also carries heavy impact for your health and the type of people you attract in your life.

Do you have a positive or negative mindset? Want to know what you can do to change it?

• How Old is “Old”?

A 2003 study concluded that people who thought old age started at 60 or less actually had a higher risk of serious heart problems later in life! Avoid the negative self-talk, and surround yourself with positive people and environments.

• Do you THINK you exercise enough??

According to a 2017 Stanford study which looked at mortality rates of 61,000 people over 21 years, those that THOUGHT they did less exercise than their peers tended to have a shorter lifespan – even if they got plenty of exercise. Of course exercise is still very important, but it’s interesting to note that your perceptions of it and yourself may be just as important!

• Do you talk yourself into failing?

Negative self-talk can creep up easily and is often hard to notice. You might think, “I’m so bad at this” or “I shouldn’t have tried that.” But these thoughts turn into internalized feelings and can cement your conceptions of yourself; they can become reality. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, “I’m so bad at this” becomes “Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this.” Or “I shouldn’t have tried” becomes “That didn’t work out as planned — maybe next time I will try it differently.”

Why Work to Change My Mindset?

Did you know that a negative mentality literally brings harm to your body? When you think negatively, dread about the future, or otherwise distress about things outside of your control, signals from your brain are sent out and initiate the “fight-or-flight” stress response. When you enter this state, many of the body’s self-repair mechanisms don’t function properly, and the immune system is suppressed. This means you are predisposed to illness!

Your attitude largely determines your direction. More Positive Thinking = More Positive Outcome; Smile more, be optimistic, and remember you are in charge! Be thankful, let go of regrets, and be kind to yourself!

“Every day may not be good, but there is good in everyday”

Surround Yourself with the Right People

When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive experiences. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and similarly contributes back into to the group!

Eliminate negativity in your life; positive thinking offers compounding returns, so the more often you practice it, the greater benefits you’ll realize!

Self-Improvement Must Reads!

This week we share some books that we think everyone should read or at least be aware of. Self-improvement books can inspire us to make better choices and enhance our lives. Whether you are humming along in life, going through a transition, or are just a continual learner, we challenge you to check out some, or all, of these books. Keep learning. We may not always have time to sit down and read a book. A few ways to keep learning, on the run with tools like these:

• Blinkist
• Audible
• iTunes University/iTunes
• Podcasts (like Optimal Health Daily on Spotify or Precision Nutrition’s Eat, Move and Live Better podcast on iTunes)

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Four agreements offer a code of conduct that can bring about a feeling of freedom and happiness: 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don’t take anything personally. 3) Don’t make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.

Think you’ve heard all you need to hear? Think again – Ruiz’s insight is the stuff of legends!

On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary

After suffering burns on 100% of his body as a child, not to mention amputated fingers and more to boot, John O’ Leary learns that we might not be able to choose what life throws at us, but we can choose how we live our life. Get ready to be inspired!

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

You hear this often at Ellipse Fitness, “what is your WHY?” In order to achieve a goal, the WHY needs to be deeply personal and it needs be a driving force, or else this will probably be just another one of those goals we fall short of without ever really giving it an honest try. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” The WHY might be, I want to be healthy so I can keep up with my grandkids or be there to take care of my spouse as we age! Almost as difficult as discovering your WHY in life is staying true to it and keeping it alive.

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

Think BIG! In this book Cardone discusses how to invest 10x more and reach 10x further. Success always requires more effort than we anticipate. Be obsessed with your goal. Find direction on how to shift your goals and focus to reach for more by working harder, building your commitment, and finingd inspiration to accomplish it!

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Gary encourages you to prioritize your to-dos by importance, become disciplined in what you want by creating a habit of it, do NOT multitask, visualize the steps to get to your goal, and never compromise your personal life for your professional goals…instead prioritize your work time to perfection!

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter

Negative programming prevents individuals from becoming and doing exactly what they want. Any amount of inspirational reading will only provide us with techniques that could work if put into practice. This book explains the principles of self-talk – a unique way of reversing negativity, optimizing outlook, focusing plans and achieving success. The key is in affirming, telling yourself the right things which then reflect in a more positive lifestyle. Sometimes it really can be that simple!

What are you waiting for??

Shocking Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Domestic Abuse

This week we have a more serious tone in light of our Victory Over Violence event coming up this Saturday, March 24th. Every year we invite our members and communities to join us for a benefit event with the aiming of “knocking out” domestic abuse – raising funds for local support outlets. This is something that literally anyone can do; find a space, start a fun engaging event, and give your community a reason to care and a reason to support victims of domestic abuse!

Although there are some stereotypical views of what domestic violence looks like, it has no single face. It could be your neighbor, friend, relative, or that person you just passed on the street.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes not just physical or sexual violence, but also threats or emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically of course, but ultimately if you live in a state of fear of your intimate partner we’re encouraging you to seek help!

Please, if you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for totally confidential support.

The Sobering Facts

• Nearly 1 in 5 women have been a victim of sexual assault at some point in their life. Link

• It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime!

• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk for homicide by 500%.

• 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

• A child witnessed violence in 22% of the intimate partner violence cases in state courts.

• Facebook reported that 45% of users in the U.S. had at least one friend who had posted #MeToo on their timeline with only a few days of the movement! Link

Here’s a story that is all too common:
In January of this year Sara Schmidt of Appleton, WI (Town of Harrison) was murdered outside of her home by her husband, leaving behind 3 children. She had filed for divorce after her husband was arrested for domestic violence, but he had been released on bail. She had, by all accounts, done everything right in trying to stay safe. Schmidt was the second woman killed in a domestic violence incident in just four months in the Fox Cities.

– This is part of why so many people who are victims of domestic violence are afraid to take action, so we MUST find a way to give them better support – to open the path for them without putting them at further risk.

Warning Signs of an Abuser

Intimate partner violence alone affects more than 12 million people per year. Red flags and warning signs of an abuser are important to recognize and include things like:
• extreme jealousy • possessiveness • unpredictability • bad temper • cruelty to animals • verbal abuse • controlling behavior • antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships • controls the finances • Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school

Watch for red flags. If you feel you, or someone you know may be in trouble, please reach out confidentially! Again the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

There is help out there, and there are people who care about your well-being. Please seek support if you are reading this knowing that you are a victim, and if you are not? Please take some sort of action to support those who are.