Lynne Nowak, MD
Ms. Nowak specializes in using advanced analytics, data science, predictive modeling, machine learning, and population health analytics to improve health outcomes. Topics include choosing the plan that’s best for you and comparing the coverage offered by plans in your area.
It’s overwhelming but we can help you manage
There’s no doubt that planning for retirement is important. But, even when we do our best to predict our future there’s still a chance that something unexpected can happen that may have a life-altering effect.
Coping with an Unexpected Diagnosis
Let’s say your doctor tells you that you have cancer or diabetes or some other serious disease. Surely you would feel devastated and overwhelmed as most of us would. But there are things you can do to manage the situation.
Understand and Accept Your Diagnosis
It’s often difficult to move forward unless you come to terms with your illness. Remaining positive is extremely important. You should always consider seeking a second opinion. This will give you peace of mind and may also provide different treatment options to consider.
- Gather information from the right sources. Today’s go-to source is the Internet, which can be a very useful tool. However, the Internet also contains a great deal of misinformation. When researching, look for information from reputable clinical or patient organization sites like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and academic organizations like the American Cancer Society. Keep in mind that friends and family members who are trying to help you may be finding misinformation, too. Make sure you do your own homework and talk to your healthcare team.
- Take statistics with a grain of salt. You’ll come across plenty of facts and statistics as you learn about your disease or condition and current methods of treatment. These numbers are usually based on millions of cases and on averages, so there’s no guarantee that you will respond to treatment the same way.
Communication Is Key
While doctors may have limited time to answer your questions, their office staff is readily available and can be an excellent source of information and support. Many practices employ nurses or nurse practitioners who can address your clinical questions. The administrative staff can help you collect and share your personal records, which will be important if the doctors you normally see need to be informed about any new developments. Never assume your doctors have been in touch with each other. It’s best to provide each doctor with information about your current condition and treatments. If possible, have a close friend or relative go with you on important appointments to take notes and ask questions.
Consider the Impact on Your Prescription Drugs
If you are hospitalized, any prescription medications you receive while in the hospital will be covered by Medicare Part A. Once you are released from the hospital, any prescriptions you leave the hospital with will be covered under your Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage. Before you fill any hospital prescriptions, it’s important to call your plan to see if the prescribed medications are covered. If they’re not, your plan can recommend some alternatives to discuss with your doctor. If there are no alternatives available, your plan can inform you about the coverage determination process.
If your medications change significantly, use the Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) between October 15 and December 7 each year to find a plan that provides better formulary coverage. A formulary is the list of prescription drugs covered by a Medicare prescription drug plan. It could wind up being less expensive overall. An unexpected diagnosis can be an unwelcome surprise. Stay positive, be proactive, and prepare yourself with reliable information to make informed choices. This strategy will make coping with your new condition easier and less stressful.
Playing an active role in your health
A visit to the doctor can sometimes mean spending more time in the waiting room than talking with your doctor. We all know how busy doctors are, often leaving little time at the end of an exam for questions about your condition, the medications you are taking or new prescriptions. Playing an active role in your health by being prepared for your visit can make it easier to ask the right questions about your diagnosis and medications. Here are some tips to help make the most of each visit. (more…)
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