Dec 12, 2018

Adulting and Appointments: Healthcare for Grownups

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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

I’ve learned a ton in high school and college, and I’m not one of those people who says that everything you learn in school is useless. With that said, though, I do feel like I never learned some of the basics of adult life: taxes, budgeting, stuff like that. I’ve managed to get it together in those departments for the most part, but one thing still really bewilders me, and that’s healthcare.

I know I should go through the paperwork and call doctors and make appointments, but the paperwork and research intimidates me, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to pay a lot to go. My parents used to make all of my appointments for me, but they’ve stopped, and now I’m kind of in no-man’s land… how do adults manage their health appointments? How do they know which doctors to see, and when? How do they manage their health insurance? Help!

Taking care of your health is essential, of course. Unfortunately, as you have discovered, it’s also quite complicated! On top of eating well and exercising, we should each seek out the help of doctors. Once you’ve made a habit of going to the doctor’s, this isn’t too tough–but, as you point out, it can be hard to know where to start.

The most fundamental thing to do here is to get a primary care physician. Your primary doctor is the one whom you’ll trust for physicals and regular check-ups. He or she will be your first line of defense against medical problems. This may sound like obvious advice to some, but it’s important–and when 28% of men and 17% of women say they don’t have a primary care doctor, this advice needs to be repeated as often as it can be!

Are we forgetting about specialists? Not at all! The pros at Hearing Solutions of Northwest Michigan tell us that specialists like them do get walk-in patients, but they also say that you can rely on a good primary care physician to point you in the direction of the correct specialist. It may be easy enough to know when you need an ear, nose, and throat doctor, but in other cases it may be tough to know the difference between injuries, problems with nerves, and other issues with similar symptoms. Your primary care doctor will be the one who makes sure you’re pointed in the right direction. You’ll probably deal with at least one doctor every year–83.6% of us do–so make sure the first one you see is your primary care doctor, so that any necessary next steps are easy to determine.

So how do you get a primary care physician? A good place to start is by checking with your insurance company to see which local doctors accept your policy. The cost of a regular check up should be very low or non-existent under most policies. But wait a minute: what’s this about insurance? Let’s back up.

Here’s the good news: right now, you’re likely covered by a plan through either your parents or your college. Later on in life, though, you’ll need to pay attention to work benefits and sign up for health insurance–and if you don’t get a policy through your work, you’ll want to sign up for individual coverage. It’s never a good idea to go without health insurance.

Typical health insurance covers most of your medical needs, but you’ll want to pay a little extra attention to two other types of care you might need. Eye care and dental care are not covered by every policy. But dentists tell us that you should never neglect your teeth, and eye specialists, naturally, tell us the same about your eyes (if you wear glasses or contacts, you’ll definitely want eye coverage). Look for additional insurance or special health insurance plans that include coverage for these.

So you have your insurance, you’ve looked up a primary care physician in your area, and you’ve made an appointment. Now what? Well now you’re set: your doctor’s office will let you know how soon you should see them again and will help you make an appointment. Your dentist and optometrist will do the same. And if you need to see a specialist in any of these care areas, your primary provider will help you find one. Once you get started, caring for your health isn’t so hard at all!

“Cakes are healthy too; you just eat a small slice.” — Mary Berry

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