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Editor's Note: Untangling the snarl of modern health care

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In this issue, you'll find the first installment of an ongoing series we're calling "The Empowered Patient." Often we hear the term "health care consumer." But what does that really mean? When you purchase a good or service, you usually know what you're getting and how much it will cost up front. You figure out what your budget is, and you can choose to shop around if the deal isn't what you had in mind. But to what extent is this possible in health care? We decided to start at the end, with the bill. Wilson Criscione delved into the labyrinth of medical billing, the mysterious world of ICD-9 codes, obscure procedures and arcane terminology. What does it all mean? Who determines what you're billed for and how much it will cost? Do mistakes ever happen? If they did, how would you know? I think you'll be surprised at his findings.

Another way to empower yourself is to become an active participant in the gathering of your own health statistics, and technology is ready to assist. The "wearables tech" industry is expected to grow more than 60 percent, to $25 billion, over the next three years, with brands like Adidas and Polo getting into the act. From diagnostic contact lenses to 24-7 heart monitoring that will contact emergency medical services if you become unresponsive, check out Linda Hagen Miller's exploration of the many facets of this fascinating field.

To your health!

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