Patients In The Know: Save Money and Feel Better

Written by: Alan Edwards

Patients, who take an active interest in their health care by staying informed about how to stay healthy, build the confidence and learn the skills to work with their doctor in making health care choices that are likely to be less expensive and have better results than patients who acquire their medical degrees by watching television commercials for the newest drugs available.

Regarding cost, researchers looked at the data collected from over 33 thousand patients enrolled in Fairview Health Services. Fairview is a Minneapolis based hospital system. They found that patients measured on a scoring system that covered 13 topics such as:

“I know how to prevent problems with my health” and “I am confident I can talk to my doctor about my concerns even when he/she does not ask.”

The researchers called these activities patient activation and found that patient activation scores collected in 2010 were excellent predictors of health care costs for these patients in the first six months of 2012. Patients with low activation scores incurred health care costs that were 21 percent higher than patients with high activation scores were. The results were constant even after adjustment for severity of illness and sociodemographic factors.

The lead study author was Judith H. Hibbard PhD, MPH. She is also professor emerita at the University of Oregon, Eugene Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management. Regarding the study, Dr. Hibbard said:

“We found that patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day [treatment]…had health care costs that were substantially lower than patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill.”

If you are not familiar with how best to manage your health care – say you have a chronic illness such as diabetes, learning more from a diabetic education program can help you manage better and choose less costly health options.

Even if you are insured this is important and co-pays and deductibles can be a huge amount of money.

In fact, of people who filed for bankruptcy due to medical expenses in 2011, less than 25 percent were uninsured and nearly 76 percent had health care insurance. It is startling how health care bills mount even when insured.

Learning how to manage your disease and your health is a sure step to saving cash and not doing without anything. You could save enough for a vacation, a shopping spree or to put some cash in your savings account.


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Patients In The Know: Save Money and Feel Better

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