Take Action & Ask Questions!
- Get Prepared
- Make a list of questions and concerns to discuss. Bring paper and pen to make notes.
- Make a list of current medicines or bring the bottles. Include over the counter medicines (like aspirin), prescription medicines and dietary supplements (such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs).
- Know your medical history, especially if this is your first visit. Include past and current medical conditions, procedures, including surgeries and complementary/alternative procedures (such as acupuncture).
- Bring your personal information, if this is your first visit or if your information has changed. Include:
- Your emergency contacts
- Employer’s address and phone numbers
- Your insurance card(s)
- Family medical history
- Name and address of your previous doctor(s)
Click here to begin your list.
- Some medical tests, treatments, and procedures provide little benefit. In some cases, they may even cause harm. Talk to your doctor to make sure you end up with the right amount of care — not too much and not too little.
- Use these 5 questions from Choosing Wisely to talk to your doctor about which tests, treatments, and procedures you need — and which you don’t need.
To get a free copy of the 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor wallet card, send an email to email@example.com with your name and address.
5 QUESTIONS to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment, or Procedure
- Do I really need this test or procedure?
Medical tests help you and your doctor or other health care provider decide how to treat a problem. And, medical procedures help to actually treat it.
- What are the risks?
Will there be side effects? What are the chances of getting results that aren’t accurate? Could that lead to more testing or another procedure?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
Sometimes all you need to do is make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or exercising more.
- What happens if I don’t do anything?
Ask if your condition might get worse — or better — if you don’t have the test or procedure right away.
- How much does it cost?
Ask if there are less-expensive tests, treatments or procedures, what your insurance may cover, and about generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs.
Watch this video from Consumer Reports on how to talk to your doctor
- For questions to ask about many different medical problems, tests and treatments check out these lists from the Choosing Wisely campaign.
- Do I really need this test or procedure?
- Know Your Rights as a Health Consumer
You have the right to:
- Receive basic health information and services in your language to help you make good health decisions.
- Communicate with your health care provider and take part in decisions about your treatment.
- A fair and efficient process for resolving differences with your health care providers, health plans, and institutions, like hospitals.
- Privacy; including protection of your health care information.
- View, and get a copy of, your health information.
- This infographic explains your rights to access your health information and tips on how to protect your information.
- Learn more about your rights under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to protect and access your health information. Resources are available in multiple languages.
- In California, young people can access STD and HIV testing and treatment, birth control, including emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, prenatal care, abortion services and mental health services without permission from a parent or guardian.
- The clinic or doctor can't tell your parents or guardians that you got these services without your consent. It’s the law! But there are important considerations;
- If you are covered under your parent or spouse’s health insurance plan, your health information will not be kept private unless you submit a Confidential Communications Request to your plan. To get the form and find out more about this process visit myhealthmyinfo.org.
- Your provider may be required to share your personal health information with others outside of the care team in some situations. Examples include if the provider thinks you are putting yourself or someone else in danger, or if there is a large age difference between you and someone you are having sex with. Ask your doctor for more information. You can also learn more about these mandatory reporting laws in English, Spanish or Chinese.
- For more information about young people’s rights and confidentiality in California visit teensource.org
Screening Test and Preventive Treatments
Look up which screening tests and preventative treatments (like vaccines) are recommended before you go to the doctor:
- Most insurance plans cover, at no cost, the tests and treatments recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force.
- Click here for more information
Alternative Health Approaches
- Heading Home Healthy Planning a trip? - visit this website before you go to get personalized health advice about your trip. You can also print off information to discuss with your doctor.
Choosing Wisely Campaign
- The Choosing Wisely Campaign aims to promote conversations between clinicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is supported by evidence, not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received, free from harm & truly necessary. The campaign is from the ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine) Foundation and Consumer Reports.
- Tips for using medicines safely
- How to work with your pharmacist to use your medicines safely
- For examples of questions to ask before taking medicine see these tips from AHRQ.
How to Choose a Doctor/ Physician Information
- Advice from Consumer Reports for caregivers on how to talk with doctors about specific medical issues.
How to Prepare a List for your Doctor's Visit
- Click here to begin your list
Know Your Rights as a Health Consumer
- Your rights as a consumer
- For Information about young people’s rights and confidentiality in California visit teensource.org
- Access and submit a Confidential Communications Request here
- Learn more about mandatory reporting laws in English, Spanish or Chinese