From the Fall 2015 issue of For Your Benefit pdf format of fybfall2015employee.pdf

Take Charge of Your Health By Asking Questions

Guest Editorial by Michael Sherman, M.D., Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care


One of the best ways to be as healthy as you can be is to take advantage of your preventive care benefits, including an annual check-up. For starters, it’s a free visit. Under federal health care reform, preventive care is provided at no out-of-pocket expense to you. This includes many of the standard screenings that your doctor may order, such as a cholesterol panel, mammography, etc.  In addition to a check of your vital signs, the annual exam is a great opportunity to engage in a genuine dialogue with your doctor.

This dialogue not only helps you take charge of your health care. It also helps to paint a picture of your overall physical and emotional well-being. And if additional care is needed, it arms your doctor with valuable information to help provide better-coordinated care, as exemplified by the GIC’s Centered Care approach. That in turn supports a better health outcome, as well as more cost-efficient care, which benefits everyone.

With that in mind, here are some things you can do in preparation for your visit and questions you may wish to ask your doctor.

Write it down

Prepare for your visit by writing down your questions in advance. After all, it can be easy to forget them in the midst of an exam. It’s also a good idea to record the information and recommendations your doctor provides.

Ask away

Along with your prepared questions, new ones will likely arise as you engage with your doctor. Here are 10 questions to consider asking; of course, there are many more:

  1. How does my overall health compare to last year’s check-up?
  2. Is my lifestyle creating any risks?
  3. Should I make changes to my diet?
  4. Which health screenings would you recommend?
  5. What risks do I have for heart disease, cancer or other chronic conditions, where I might make lifestyle changes?
  6. Is there anything about my family medical history I should be concerned about?
  7. What can I do to reduce stress?
  8. Should I get a flu shot? Pneumonia vaccine?  Shingles vaccine?
  9. Is there a generic equivalent to any of my prescriptions?
  10. What can I do to improve my health?

If you think of your annual exam as an opportunity, you’ll be more likely to get greater value out of it. Take a few minutes to prepare a list of questions addressing your concerns or issues. Then take charge of your health by asking questions that will help you get the best possible care and improve your well-being.

Dr. Michael Sherman serves as chief medical officer and senior vice president for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He also serves as chair of the Board of Managers of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, which encompasses the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is the only appointing medical school department in the US based in a health plan.  Dr. Sherman holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Natural Sciences and an M.S. in Biomedical Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and received his M.D. from Yale and M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .