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Become a smarter health care consumer this February

Wise Health Care Consumer Month

Wise Health Care Consumer Month

When: February 1 – 28

What: In our consumer-centric society, people spend hours researching a car’s safety features and ratings before making a purchase. Health care is an expensive, monthly purchase many Americans make – either by contributing to their insurance premiums or paying out-of-pocket. When it comes to health care, we are all consumers, so why should we approach our health any less-informed than we would if buying a car? During the month of February, celebrate Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

Background: Sponsored by the American Institute for Preventative Medicine, Wise Health Care Consumer Month urges consumers to take responsibility for their well-being through healthy lifestyles and informed health decisions.

Story Pitch: Health care agencies, health-based nonprofits, schools, and employers can pitch health programs and healthy lifestyles around this event. Any company can take time to educate employees on healthy living and how to responsibly use offered health services.

The Story Hook: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of health care in the U.S reached $16.2 trillion in 2007 – roughly 16 percent of its GDP. This staggering figure reflects patients seeking unnecessary or delayed emergency room care, the prescription of unnecessary tests and procedures, and human error. While average Americans wait for politicians to sort out health care reform, we can all take steps to improve the quality of the health care we receive. Don’t forget to consider the following questions before making your pitch:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages American health care consumers to become health literate by learning the skills necessary to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor’s directions and consent forms, and the ins and outs of complex health care systems. What areas of your community are at greater risk for health illiteracy? How can they be helped?
  • What can patients do to maximize their one-on-one time with doctors during office visits?
  • Smart health care consumers save their employers money by engaging in healthy behaviors and making educated choices, such as seeing their primary care physician for non-emergencies instead of visiting the E.R. How else can companies benefit from employing smart health care consumers?
  • Resources such as Hospital Quality Compare exist to aid consumers when researching the quality of doctors and medical facilities. How else is technology helping consumers pool health care information and make informed decisions?

Tips: When pitching this event to a news organization, make sure to include contact information for a smart health care consumer and a health care provider.


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
(301) 427-1364

National Library of Medicine
(301) 594-5983

Mayo Clinic
(507) 284-5005

American Institute for Preventative Medicine
(248) 539-1800

–Researched, compiled & written by Marissa Maybee
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