How to be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

February 2024   Nikki Bornhorst  |  ✓  Medically Reviewed by:  Gary Falcetano, PA-C, AE-C

Your eyes are itchy, you haven't been able to breathe through your nose for weeks, and you've run out of tissues from all that sneezing. You do some internet research and think you might have allergies. You schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider, head to the appointment with hope, and leave a short time later feeling defeated. 

What happened? You went in thinking you would get an allergy test to determine if that's what has been causing your symptoms, but that didn't happen. 

If you are frustrated because you feel like your provider is dismissing your concerns or making you feel like you are overreacting, remember that you can advocate for yourself and can be part of a shared decision-making process when it comes to taking control of your health.

Here are some steps you can take to be an empowered patient and get a specific IgE blood test if you feel like your healthcare provider is gaslighting you. 

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1. Educate Yourself

Start by researching the symptoms you're experiencing. Understanding the potential causes of your symptoms may help you communicate your concerns more effectively.

Good news! We're here to help. Our evidence-based content can provide the insights you need to feel more informed and empowered.

2. Document Your Symptoms

Keep track of the symptoms you experience, including when they occur, how long they last, and the severity of the symptoms.

Our allergy symptom questionnaire can be a great tool to help pull that information together and give you some solid evidence to help support your case when discussing your concerns with your provider.

3. Understand Who Can Order Tests

A visit with your primary care provider might result in a referral to an allergist for testing. That may be because the provider isn't sure how to order a specific IgE blood test or is unclear about which test to order.

But keep in mind that any healthcare provider that orders laboratory testing can order a specific IgE blood test; it does not require a visit to a specialist/allergist. 

Don't be afraid to speak up and emphasize that your provider likely can order the test. There are resources to help them know which tests are the correct ones to order and to guide them through interpretation.

4. Get Tested Directly from a Lab

While it might not be in your original plan, you can schedule a specific IgE blood test directly with a laboratory. No doctor referral is needed. 

Results from the test may facilitate a better discussion with your provider at a future office visit. 

Learn more about getting a test.

5. Understand the Cost

How much does an allergy test cost? It depends, but the price doesn't have to be a barrier. The cost for an allergy test varies and can be dependent on the number of allergens tested. It also depends on health insurance coverage and the lab that runs the test.

Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover specific IgE testing. For specific information, you should contact your insurance company – ideally before you visit your provider so that are you armed with that information up front.

A quick breakdown of how diagnostic tests are priced:

  • The allergy test is manufactured and sold to labs at a flat rate.
  • Labs determine the price they charge for their service, which is what uninsured patients pay.
  • For those insured, labs bill the insurance company for the cost of the test.
  • Clinics bill the insurance company for the cost of the appointment.
  • Insurance companies determine how much they cover and what the patient pays.

6. Be Assertive

When discussing your symptoms and concerns with your healthcare provider, be assertive and confident. Clearly communicate your desire for a blood allergy test and explain why you believe it is necessary.

If you feel like you are being brushed off or dismissed, don't be afraid to speak up. You can call it out by being direct and emphasizing that your symptoms are impairing your daily life.

You are your own best advocate when it comes to your health. Be an empowered patient who takes control of your healthcare journey.

Relevant Resources for Healthcare Providers

 

Check out these practice parameters and guidelines that can provide clinical insights from expert recommendations and peer-reviewed articles on allergies and asthma. 

Here are some resources we offer that can help you better order and interpret test results with confidence. 

Gaining a more precise understanding of whether patients have an IgE mediated allergy, and if so, what their individual triggers are, can help you to better select appropriate therapeutics and guide exposure reduction techniques, which may improve symptoms and decrease medication costs. 

Tools for Understanding Allergies

 

Track allergy symptoms and prepare for a visit with a healthcare provider.

Learn about specific allergens, including common symptoms, management, and relief. 

Are you a healthcare provider? Get comprehensive information on hundreds of whole allergens and allergen components.