Healthcare should be simple. You get sick; you speak to the right person to rectify it; you’re cured; life continues as normal. That’s how it should be but, as far too many women know, this isn’t the case. Finding the healthcare you truly need and deserve is often far more difficult than it should be.
However, your right to good healthcare is absolute, so making sure you receive exactly what you need is an imperative. As a result, you may want to consider the points below the next time you are unwell and in need of assistance. Here are three ways to ensure you get the healthcare you deserve.3 ways to ensure you get the #healthcare you deserve #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet
3 Ways to get the healthcare you deserve
1.What to do if… your pain isn’t being taken seriously
If you’re a woman with a pain condition, you’ll find yourself battling against two issues:
- Doctors have been proven, time and again, not to take female pain seriously. Women are often dismissed when they describe their pain, thought by doctors to be being hysterical or exaggerating. Worryingly, this can happen with both male and female doctors.
- Secondly, you’re also fighting against the sad truth that many woman don’t feel pain in the same way men do. This is something you need to keep in mind if dealing with clinical staff.
So if you’re in pain and you suspect the issue is not being taken seriously enough, here’s what you need to do:
- Keep emotion out of the way you describe the pain. Say “it hurts so much I can barely stand” rather than “it hurts so much I keep bursting into tears”.
- Keep your sentences short and perfunctory; you don’t need to go into details unless asked to do so. Just saying “the pain is very severe” when asked to describe the pain is a good idea; the fewer words you have to use, the less chance the doctor can see your reaction as “hysterical”.
- Don’t ask for pain medication; ask for “a solution” or “a way to stop the pain”. Be open to alternative treatment options such as acupuncture. If you ask for and expect pain medication, doctors may become concerned you’re simply looking for drugs. This happens to all patients, but it’s still something you need to be aware of.
- If you feel your pain isn’t being taken seriously, seek a second opinion, and a third opinion if necessary.
Is it ridiculous that women have to modify the way they describe pain to make their point heard? Of course it is. However, it’s also necessary, so the steps above can help combat the issue and ensure you receive the treatment you need.
2. What to do if… there’s a problem with your bill
Many people don’t actually study the bill for their medical expenses. Instead, they just let their insurance — be it provided through their employer or thanks to the ACA — deal with the bill on their behalf.
However, medical bills can be — and frequently are — incorrect. This means that you will pay more for your co-pay and, potentially, the cost of your coverage. Furthermore, if you’re uninsured, any issues with the accuracy of your billing will come out of your pocket directly.
This is not a situation you just have to tolerate, which is why your first step should be to query the bill with the relevant healthcare administrator for the clinic or hospital that you attended. It’s worth remembering that this person is not a medical professional; they hold a healthcare administration MBA, not an MD, so they might not know the ins and outs of the treatment you received. In most cases, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. However, if there is a disagreement over the treatment or medication you received, then you may need to request an explanation of the charges from the medical professional who treated you.
Don’t be concerned about doing this. Healthcare is incredibly expensive and, even with insurance, can put a real strain on your finances. If you think something is wrong with your bill, then remember that you’re well within your rights to query it and ask for an explanation. If the administrator and your doctor aren’t able to produce the results you’ve been hoping for, then you can escalate it even further up the chain of administrative command. Ultimately, medical care is just like any other service, and you should only be expected to pay for what you actually received.
3.What to do if… you don’t agree with the assessment or diagnosis you’ve been given
Finally, the last point is arguably the most crucial; a disagreement over diagnosis. Most disagreements occur when a patient has been told there is nothing wrong, and they disagree, so we’ll focus on this circumstance for the sake of clarity. Here’s what you should do:
- If you believe you have a particular condition based on your symptoms and experience, ask the doctor to justify why you don’t have that condition. You don’t have to accept “no, you don’t have that” as the definitive answer; ask for the differential diagnostics that allow them to rule the condition out.
- Treat test results as sacrosanct, but accept that anything else is up for discussion. If a test rules out a condition, then it’s best to accept the results unless you have justifiable reasons to believe the test was flawed. However, if the diagnosis (or the lack of diagnosis, as the case may be) is based on the doctor’s opinion, then you have every right to question and query their judgment. If they don’t like this, then seek another doctor; a good medical professional knows they are fallible, and won’t have an issue with a patient seeking proactive advice on their own healthcare.
- If all else fails, seek a second opinion. If you’re looking to keep costs low, you could speak to a doctor using an online service to see if they concur with your assessment; this is usually cheaper than attending an actual in-clinic appointment.
Fighting for the healthcare you deserve is your right, so don’t be afraid to speak up and expect better if things aren’t quite as you think they should be.