Health & lifestyle
Looking after your health
People experience many different health problems over their lifetime, from a simple cold to serious health issues, such as heart disease. And some conditions are more common as you get older, like deterioration of vision or hearing. Whatever your problem, physical or emotional, having it reviewed by a doctor provides an opportunity to get the right help. For many conditions, the sooner you start treatment the better the outcome. When was the last time you saw a doctor for a check-up?
Where to start
If you look in the phone book there are endless listings of doctors and health professionals, but how do you choose? A General Practitioner is often the best person to see first. They have a broad knowledge of health issues and if they can’t help, they know who you should contact next. They will also provide you with a referral if you need to see a specialist. If you don’t have a GP, ask your friends who they see about similar conditions or log on to the Better Health Channel website for information about how to choose a doctor.
When it comes to seeing a doctor some people find it helpful to write a list of concerns and questions to take to their appointment. This ensures you don’t forget to ask about the things that have been on your mind. Writing down the answers means you have a record of the information for your own records.
There are often many steps you can take to monitor your health and your doctor can advise you about these. For example, there are free screening health tests available, such as for hearing and vision. So talk to your doctor next time you see him/her about whether they recommend you have any of these tests.
If you are worried about your health and your doctor is unavailable, then calling Nurse-On-Call on 1300 606 024 can also help. Trained nurses can discuss your concerns over the phone and provide advice about what to do.
While most people can be treated at home, if your doctor believes you need to go to hospital, then how quickly you are admitted and treated will depend on the urgency of your situation and whether you have private health insurance. If you are going to be treated in a public hospital, there is a priority system to ensure the most unwell people receive treatment first. If you have private health insurance it is unlikely that you will experience any lengthy delays, but your doctor or your chosen hospital will be able to provide more information about this.
In emergencies you should contact Triple Zero or attend the emergency department at the nearest hospital.
There is also a range of organisations that have information lines to help you to better understand particular health issues and where to get help. For example, the beyondblue information line on 1300 22 4636 or the Heart Information Service on 1300 36 27 87. More information lines can be found in our useful links and resources page.
Regular appointments with a dentist are another way to be proactive about your health. Your teeth have to withstand a lot of wear and tear over the years, so regular dental checks can help ensure they never need significant treatment. While most people see a private dentist, Medicare will cover some dental fees if you meet the eligibility criteria. Ask your dentist for more information about this.
How much does getting help cost?
Medicare helps people to access health services by paying all or part of their medical bills. Some doctors will bulk bill, which means your appointment is free, but many, including specialists, will charge a set fee and you Medicare will pay some money towards the cost. Public hospital costs are also covered by Medicare. You simply need to register online or at a Medicare office to be eligible for these benefits.
Some people have private health insurance to assist with medical costs. The expenses covered by private health insurance vary between providers. If you take out private health insurance it is important to be clear about what the provider covers and that the coverage is appropriate to your needs.
The other way to manage medical fees is to have a current ambulance subscription. If you have an accident or experience a serious medical problem and require an ambulance it can be very expensive if you are not a subscriber. Even if you have private health insurance, you may not be covered, so it is worth checking. For more information about becoming an ambulance subscriber, contact the ambulance service provider in your State or Territory.
Whilst getting help might seem an arduous task don’t let that put you off taking care of yourself, particularly as you get older. That old saying “better safe than sorry” rings true – when you feel that something is not quite right don’t hesitate to have it checked out. The sooner you get treatment for a problem the more likely it is that you will get a better outcome.
With good health you can live life to the fullest. When will you arrange your next health check?
To help you look aftre your health we have put together some relevant links and resources.
To help you look after your health we have put together some relevant links and resources.Read more