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

National Organizations
  •  Disease Groups
  •  Specific Populations

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor:

Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Quality:

  1. What regular screenings should I get?

    Discuss your risk of getting certain conditions. What lifestyle choices and changes might you need to make to lower your risks or prevent illness? Ask about the risks and benefits of tests and treatments.

  2. Which treatment would you recommend for me?

  3. Why do I need this treatment?

    What does it involve? What are the benefits of having the treatment? What are the risks of having the treatment? What problems occur with this treatment? What kind of pain and discomfort can I expect? How many of these treatments have been successful? (if an operation - How many of these operations have you performed and how successful were they?)

  4. Are there other treatments available?

  5. What if I have to stay in the hospital overnight?

    Is there a limit on how long I can stay in the hospital? Who decides when I am to be discharged? How long is recovery expected to take? Will follow up care, such as nursing home or home health care, be covered by my plan?

  6. Where can I get a second opinion?

  7. What will the recovery period after surgery or other treatment be like?

  8. What are the common side effects of the treatment and what can be done about them?

  9. Are you a doctor board certified?

    Although all doctors must be licensed to practice medicine, some also are board certified. This means the doctor has completed several years of training in a specialty and passed an exam. Call the American Board of Medical Specialties at 800-776-2378 for more information.

  10. Have complaints been registered or disciplinary actions taken against your doctor?

    To find out, call your State Medical Licensing Board. Ask Directory Assistance for the phone number. Have complaints been registered with your state Department of Insurance? (Not all Departments of Insurance accept complaints.) Ask Directory Assistance for the phone number.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Assuming Financial Risk:

  1. Are you "at risk" financially for my care?

  2. Do you get paid a bonus based on performance measures?

  3. Are you penalized financially if your costs are too high?

  4. Does your practice follow a drug formulary?

    (A drug formulary is a chart developed by a practice or a health plan that encourages physicians to prescribe less expensive drugs).

  5. Is your practice owned by a larger conglomerate?

  6. What specialists are you able to refer me to?

    (Often the answer will involve certain medical centers or clinics with whom the physician has a contractual relationship).

  7. Are you restricted in any way from referring me to someone I want to go visit?

    (If they are and your specialist is important to you, you may want to consider choosing a primary care physician who is not restricted from referring you to your specialist of choice).

  8. Does the cost of the care you give affect your colleagues' income?

  9. What emergency rooms can I go to without question?

  10. What rehabilitation/skilled nursing/hospice centers will you make referrals to?

Questions To Ask Your Doctor If You Have a Chronic Condition:

  1. What will we know after the test? How will I find out the test results?

  2. How is this condition treated or managed?

  3. What will be the long-term effects on my life?

  4. How soon should treatment start? How long will it last?

  5. Are there any dangers or side effects of treatment?

    Are there ways I can prevent, limit, or cope with the side effects? Are there ways my health care provider can prevent, limit, modify or treat the side effects? Are the side effects likely to produce life style changes? Are these side effects likely to produce a health hazard for my family?

  6. Who are the experts in treating this disease and where are they located?

  7. If I am thinking about visiting these doctors for a second opinion, can I make my own appointment with them or do you need to make it for me?

  8. Are there support groups which focus on this disease?

    Local, regional, national? Is there a national society for this disease?

  9. How do I find information about clinical trials or the latest research?

  10. Does this disease have the potential to directly affect my family?

    Does my family need screening tests? Should my family consider genetic counseling? Do they need preventative treatment?

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