Melissa Bailey Arizpe, Psy.D.

Be your own best advocate

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 12:47 am

You have probably noticed that there are advertisements and billboards all over for the lapband and other weight loss surgeries. You can’t turn on the radio or the television without an ad coming up. On one hand this is wonderful news because there is an option out there for people who have been struggling with their weight and the problems that come with obesity for years. On the other hand, this also means that many of the doctors’ office are getting a lot of people calling who want the surgery.

I always encourage patients to be their own best advocates when opting for a surgical procedure or, frankly, for any health condition. Believe it or not but physicians and their staff are people just like us and sometimes they get overwhelmed–much like we all do at our jobs. It is really up to you as the patient to make sure that you are on top of all of the paperwork, assessments and other items that are needed for the insurance authorization process that occurs prior to surgery. Moreover, it is up to you to get ALL of the facts before you have surgery. Do not go in to a surgical procedure without having all of your questions thoroughly answered. Many of the steps leading up to surgery are meant to prepare you for what lies ahead of you post-surgery. Some surgeons and facilities do a great job of this. Some do overkill and some do very little. Again, it is up to you as the patient to be an informed consumer. Healthcare these days is no different.

Your health insurance is also a place to be your own advocate. Find out for yourself how much your insurance covers and what your co-insurance is going to be. Find out how much lapband fills or follow-up appointments are going to be so you are not surprised ahead of time. Often times patients are so excited about the prospect of surgery that they forget about these long-term items. Call your insurance and find out what your options are. Most insurance companies are happy to talk to their participants and will usually be more open about giving information than they will to even the surgeon’s office. Don’t just wait to see what the surgeon’s office says about coverage–find out for yourself. This goes for not just the surgery but any procedure. I recently found out the hard way that I could have been paying a lot less for a prescription allergy medication if I had only called my insurance company earlier instead of depending on the pharmacy to know the ins and outs of my coverage.

Being your own advocate extends beyond your surgery. After surgery, it is very important to make sure that you are staying on track with your eating habits, lap band adjustments, and follow-up appointments. If you are not losing weight like you think you should, it is important for you to follow-up with the surgeon, the psychologist or the nutritionist. Many times after surgery, I see patients get frustrated with their weight los or the lifestyle changes that are necessary to make your surgery a success. The surgeon and his or her supporting team can only do so much. It takes you doing the work. This might include setting up regular appointments with the doctor ahead of time. This way it is on your schedule and will keep you on track. If you are having a symptom you are unsure of, the doctor can’t read your mind. You need to call.

Finally, I cannot stress enough how much uses the support that is available to you can help. I hate to see post-surgical patients suffer by themselves. I often have frustrated patients come in months after their surgery asking questions that could have been asked much earlier or found online at one of the many support forums available. In today’s virtual world there is no reason why a patient should feel “out there” alone.

Remember it is ultimately your health at stake. Only you can be your own best advocate!

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  1. Thank you so much for the great advice. I called my doctor’s office and asked about my co-pays, the price of fills and a couple of other questions that had been nagging at me but I was to timid to ask. I feel so much better!

  2. Never be timid about asking those questions. Some surgeons charge hundreds of dollars for a fill, some just charge an office visit with a co-pay. If the fill is going to be super expensive then you might not go as often as you should and slow down your weight loss!

    Thanks for reading!

    Melissa

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