Don’t Wait till You’re Sick: Take Charge of Your Family’s Health Today

Couple looking at laptop over breakfast

We all know that getting sick is no fun. You feel lousy, but usually avoid going to the doctor because of the hassle and expense. You try to tough it out as long as you can, but eventually, there comes a point when you start to think—it’s time to see a doctor.

Then you spend several nerve-wracking hours in a hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic, worried that you—or worse, your child or family member—is terribly sick.

What if there was another way?  What if you could avoid some of these last-minute trips to the E.R.?

While you can’t always prevent getting sick, there is a lot you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy.

How to Take Charge of Your Health

It starts by being proactive. By learning about any issues you and your family may have, and staying on top of them, you may be able to avoid annoying or painful complications.1 And you will likely save money by making a small office copay upfront vs. getting a hefty hospital bill later.2

It’s easier than you think to get started. There are just three simple steps to take to start taking charge of your health:

  1. Review your health insurance policy
    A quick check can reveal a lot of useful information. 
    • Take a look at what services are covered (and what’s not covered). This way when your doctor suggests a test or some other service, you’ll know if insurance will pay for it, and you can discuss other options if necessary.
    • Check to see if you will have to pay any copays, deductibles, or coinsurance. Some plans have copays, which are small payments made at the time of the office visit.  Other plans use deductibles, which are yearly amounts you are responsible for before the insurance kicks in. Coinsurance is the percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay after you've paid your deductible.

    While policies can be very different, each one should have a clear listing of this information. To access your plan details, visit opens in new window) .

  2. Get a family doctor
    A primary care physician, or PCP, is like the captain of your family’s health care team.  To find the one that’s right for you:
    • Get recommendations from friends and family. It’s a great way to learn about a doctor you might try.
    • Look for reviews and opinions online.  You can find a lot of information online about anyone, just by using your cell phone or computer. See what other patients have to say about the doctors before you make your choice.
    • Narrow down your list to only doctors who are part of your insurance network (often called in-network).  Generally, there is a lower out-of-pocket fee to use doctors in your network.3
    • Choose your doctor. Pick someone who has good reviews (or at least no bad reviews), is near your home or workplace, and feels right for you.
  3. Make an appointment
    Once you’ve reviewed your insurance and selected a new PCP, make an appointment to see the doctor—and keep it.  Why is that important?
    • If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a doctor, this is a chance to get an exam and ask any questions you have.  This is also a way to see if anything has changed with your health, and if it has, do something about it now, instead of waiting for it to become a full-blown emergency.
    • If you have an ongoing condition like diabetes4 or asthma5, this can help you better manage your symptoms.
    • When a doctor knows you better, your lifestyle, your medical history, and your family situation, he or she has more information and can provide better advice.6
    • Getting to know your doctor can also make a difference in how comfortable you feel talking with him or her.
    • Plus, most health insurance plans include one covered preventive visit per person each year.

A few other things to keep in mind:

If you or someone in your family needs a specialist, always check to see if he or she is in your network before making an appointment. If your primary care doctor recommends a specialist who is not in your network, you can always ask for another suggestion. Using in-network providers saves money.

Wondering if your teen has outgrown the pediatrician? We have some information to help make the decision here

Interested in knowing when or how often certain tests like mammograms and vaccinations are recommended? Check out our preventive healthcare guidelines.

The best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent it if you can.  Take charge of your family’s health. Review your policy, pick a new doctor, and make those appointments. Take advantage of the services available to you. It makes more sense than waiting to go for help until you or someone you love is really sick.  And it’s much better than spending all night in an E.R. waiting room.

Healthcare glossary

Find medical and insurance terms.

Browse the glossary

Insurance 101

Learn the basics of insurance to get started on the right path.

Get started