Patient Guide
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Road Map To American Health Care
  •  You The Patient
  •  Who Pays For You
  •  Who Manages Your Health Dollars
  •  Who Takes Care Of You

Tips For The Consumer
  •  Help Prevent Errors
  •  Questions To Ask Your Doctor
  •  Choosing A Health Plan
  •  Getting Children Enrolled
  •  Choosing A Medicare HMO
  •  Tips From the Experts

Questions For Candidates

Help In Your Hometown

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  •  Specific Populations

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You The Patient (Patients and Their Problems)

Health EmergencyInsured PatientYou Uninsured PatientYou
Chronic IllnessInsured PatientYou Uninsured PatientChronic IllnessYou

Health Emergency (Acute Care)

Patients experiencing a health emergency may be suffering from an acute illness or a flare-up of an ongoing medical condition. Injuries from accidents, appendicitis, or a serious bacterial infection like meningitis are examples of acute illnesses. Many people think of themselves as temporarily healthy and rely on health care plans to cover unexpected emergency care. Statistics show that some people who are uninsured will put off seeking health care until the health problem becomes an emergency situation - putting strain on the patient's physical health as well as on the resources of the emergency care facility.

Chronic Illness

Chronic, from the Greek word for time, chronos, refers to care for a condition that will last a long while or indefinitely. Kinds of chronic problems requiring ongoing medical attention or therapy include asthma, congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, or cerebral palsy. Some chronic illnesses are congenital, while others strike later in life. While most chronic patients can not be cured, they may live long and productive lives, depending upon the extent of their physical impairment. A stroke victim has suffered from an acute medical emergency but, depending upon the severity of the stroke and magnitude of damage that results, may also become a chronic patient.


Studies show that people with no insurance visit the doctor less, do not get the preventative care they need, do not get the medicines they need, and have a much greater risk of suffering conditions that could be preventable. One study found that the uninsured are twice as likely as those with private insurance to be hospitalized for diabetes, hypertension and immunizable conditions-all health problems easily treated with regular visits to a primary care physician.i

Insured Patient

Insured patients are covered by a health plan or indemnity insurer for a portion of their health care costs. In 1993, nearly half of the Americans with employer-based health care had traditional indemnity insurance. But since then workers have been directed overwhelmingly into managed care health plans, so that today 9 in 10 workers covered by an employer are enrolled in some form of managed care.ii

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