Health Tips

Exploring Treatment Options

In a Parade Magazine article, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld of the Cornell Medical Center described what is happening in health care in the United States:

The truth is, medical care is rationed in this country. Physicians are spending less time with their patients. Many now work for insurance companies or managed care providers who have the last word on what tests or treatments they’ll pay for. You may not even be told that there are better options than what you’ve been offered. So now, more than ever, you’re essentially on your own when it comes to protecting your health and well-being.

I am not saying that you must become an expert to have any hope of receiving proper medical attention. What I’m saying is this: When you actively participate in your family’s care — in partnership with a physician who encourages such teamwork — you are operating according to the best model of medicine, the one most likely to result in good health.

Whenever possible, get all the information you can from your doctor about the risks, benefits and costs of each treatment option he may recommend. Ask each health care expert you see, “What are all the potential treatments available to me, and how do you suggest we analyze them to come up with the best treatment option?” Ask how your (or your child’s) condition can be expected to progress with treatment — and without treatment.

Many providers aren’t used to caring for people who are their own health care quarterbacks. Some may seem bothered or not have time for these discussions. If your doctor is reluctant to answer all your questions and let you make the final decision, you may need to change doctors.

You may be thinking, But my HMO won’t allow me to change doctors more than once a year. I’m stuck! Fortunately, that’s not true if you’re dissatisfied with your doctor. Just call the insurance company or HMO and explain your problem –– and why you need to change doctors. Most companies are not only understanding but also quite helpful to patients in these situations. If you need to further understand the different options in the health insurance arena, you can download a valuable document by going to and clicking on “10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People.” Scroll down to the chapter 11 references and click on “Choosing and Using a Health Plan.”

It never hurts to get more than one opinion about the best course of treatment for your (or your child’s) specific problem. It’s your right to have the information you need to make a wise decision.

— Dr. Walt Larimore                                                    

Taken with permission and adapted from 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People by Walt Larimore, M.D. with Traci Mullins.

© 2007 iMom. All rights reserved.

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