Top Docs 2008 Part IV: How to Fight Back

In talking about the patient experience, much is made of “giving” and “receiving” care, suggesting the gentlest transference of healing. Less frequently mentioned: the wheedling, wrangling, dissecting, arguing, and defending of care that is often necessary, as well.

With the average Bay Stater laying out more than $6,600 a year for healthcare, or 27 percent more than the national average, that bottom line needs round-the-clock observation. There are advocacy groups that help cut through hospital and insurance company bureaucracy, consumer tipsters with smart ideas on trimming health costs—so make the most of them.

It isn’t just about money, though; it’s about value, too. Refuse to settle for subpar care. Break out of customer-service hell. After all, you should get what you’ve paid for.

Give It to Us Straight
Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think, on three potentially tricky patient initiatives.

You’ve Got Their Number
A consumer avenger puts health insurers’ call-in lines to the test. Plus, want to talk to an operator—now? Healthcare-related phone hacks, courtesy of GetHuman’s relentless redialers.

Protective Measures
When it comes to managing your health insurance information, diligence is the best policy.

Where to Get…
A hired gun for your healthcare battles.