There are so many articles and even books out there about how to save money on health care and how to keep those health insurance premiums down. Years ago I had a friend that was an ICU nurse. One of the best things he told me was to get and keep my own medical records. So, for many years now I have copies of all my blood tests, mammograms, and any procedures I have had done. It’s also a good idea to get the doctors notes if or when you change doctors. It would probably be a good idea to get those records before you get set up with a new doctor. Usually your doctors’ office staff will copy your records for you at no charge. Also, when you have your own up- to date records, it makes qualifying for health or life insurance much easier. You won’t have to wait four to six weeks for your doctor to send the records. You will also be able to accurately fill out the insurance carriers’ application. You will be able to look and see when you had your last Pap smear or blood test for example.

Davis Liu, M.D has a great article about this very subject in “The Health Care Blog.” One of the things he is talking about is the fact that most medical insurance plans whether they are individual health plans or senior health plans are based on a fee for service. The more stuff doctors do, the more they get paid. None of us would like to think that our doctor who we literally trust our lives with, would order a test that we didn’t need. After all we are not medical professionals nor would most of us want to be. We want to go to our doctor and if he/she tells us we need something we do not want to have to go to a medical library to check it out. Right? Read this excerpt from Dr Liu….

“I recently had a 55 year old healthy woman join my practice. She wisely had brought in her medical records and was fairly educated on the care she received. She told me that her previous doctor had recommended a colonoscopy for this year, five years after her initial colonoscopy at age 50. Odd. For most patients with no family history of colon cancer and a normal colonoscopy, recommendations are to repeat in ten years not five.

Did she have any abdominal pain or change in bowel habits? No

Did the doctor say anything about colon polyps or growths? No.

Did she have the colon biopsied? No.

Was there a family history of colon cancer? No.

She was pretty sure she was to have a repeat test five years later.

I reviewed her previous doctor’s chart which had her colonoscopy report. A completely normal colonoscopy results. No polyps. No growths. No biopsy. At the end of the report: Recommend repeat colonoscopy in 5 years.

I’ve read news reports over the years where research has noted some gastroenterologists were doing colonoscopies more frequently than recommended by their own professional medical societies either for routine screening or follow-up of colon polyps and growths. I assumed those stories were outliers and rare. I would never encounter such an obvious case of overtreatment. But this patient’s report and her memory of what her doctor told her could not be chalked up to a typo or a misunderstanding. Would doctors do more because they get paid more? How else can this be explained?

Remember Keep your own doctor records.