October 19, 2008
Personalizing Your Health Care:
We hear all the time about HMO’s and PPO’s, MRI’s, HIPAA and a host of other health care terms, but how many of us really understand what these terms mean and why they matter to us? Caprice Leinonen does, and she’s written “Personalizing Your Health Care: Empower Yourself and Get the Treatment You Deserve” to enlighten us on the many details of modern medicine so we can make informed decisions rather than blindly following what our doctors suggest. “Personalizing Your Health Care” is an easy-to-read factual exploration of the history, present day situation and hopeful future of medical care. Readers will come away informed, better able to make their own medical decisions, and knowing what questions to ask their health care providers.
Caprice Leinonen is herself a committed health care professional. She began her career first as a candy striper in high school, then as a pharmacy technician while in college. After graduation, she became a medical technologist in clinical laboratories. Today, she is a consultant for the implementation of enterprise-wide information technology for health care organizations. She is extremely knowledgeable about health care in all its aspects and she shares that knowledge by educating consumers about their health care options. With “Personalizing Your Health Care,” Leinonen seeks to reach a larger audience that needs this information so they are not baffled by the confusing maze of hospital procedures, insurance, prescriptions, and medical research.
“Personalizing Your Health Care” explains in comprehensible language all the medical terms frequently used that we often do not have the courage to ask our doctors to explain in detail. Leinonen has divided her book into ten chapters that break down for us the details of such functions as insurance, imaging technologies, and biotechnology. The book is filled with many special short sections called “Health Tip” for important definitions of terms and “Consumer Tip” for suggestions to make sure you receive the care you need.
Beyond being a guide through the medical world, “Personalizing Your Health Care” also advocates for changes to improve many situations that currently are frustrating, costly, ineffective, and detrimental. I personally found the section on health insurance the most fascinating, and I support Leinonen’s argument wholeheartedly that health insurance should not be sponsored by one’s employer. Too many people stay in jobs where they are miserable long after they have ceased to be productive because they feel they need the health insurance; this situation is detrimental to employees and employers alike. Furthermore, employers should not have access to employees’ medical records, which they currently do—a situation that can lead to secret discrimination against an employee with a medical condition. While employees may think health insurance is a benefit, in reality, they suffer from lower wages because of health insurance’s costs to their employer; if allowed to make their own health care decisions, people would have more options, and they could be compensated with higher wages to make them more productive; they could also choose coverage that fulfills their personal health care needs rather than participating in a one-plan-fits-all situation.
As a consumer advocate, Leinonen takes us through the mysteries behind the expense of health care insurance, and she encourages people to ask assertively about the cost of procedures and prescriptions before they agree to them. Leinonen illustrates her arguments with personal examples about prescription costs. When a pharmacy could not fulfill her order for 500 mg pills that cost $17, they asked if she would accept twice as many pills that were 250 mg. She was astounded to learn she only had to pay $2 for the 250 mg pills. No one would have provided her with this information had the pharmacy not run out of 500 mg pills. Because of such situations, Leinonen advocates that patients should know their health care costs up front with a single price list, and health care insurance should become as competitive as car and homeowner’s insurance. As Leinonen reminds us, “Be confident and speak up—after all, it is your money.”
Changes need to be made in health care, and Leinonen has several practical solutions to make the situation better. She recommends a national patient identification system to allow medical files to be transferred easily from one hospital or doctor’s office to another so people who move or travel can have their records transferred without problems such as having their files mixed up with another patient’s information. She also explains the disadvantages of what could happen if the government was put in control of health care; she gives examples of problems that already have happened from government intervention in programs such as Medicare, and she explains the difficulty of resolving problematic situations because the government is so slow about changing legislature.
I have only slightly touched on the valuable information in “Personalizing Your Health Care.” Leinonen takes us through many other discussions, including cloning and stem-cell research, genetically modified foods, and the reasons for high health insurance costs. Beyond the main text, she provides a long list of website resources she helpfully divides into such categories as Health Insurance, Prescription Drugs, and Food Safety Information, and she offers a sample patient advocate form. More resources and information on “Personalizing Your Health Care” can be found at her informative website www.PersonalizingYourHealth care.com .
Anyone who cares about his or her health and wants to be prepared for dealing with the present day health care system should read “Personalizing Your Health Care.” You will come away a more informed, confident, and assertive advocate of your health care needs.
- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and author of The Marquette Trilogy
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