Doctor and patient smiling

As a health care consumer, you have the right to receive information that is accurate and presented in a way that you can understand. You also have the right to take part in decisions about your health care with your doctor or other health care provider. Practice your rights as a health care consumer by making the most of your visit.

Get Prepared Ask Questions Know Your Rights Resources


Take Action & Ask Questions!
  1. Get Prepared

    list of questions
    • 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.


  2. Ask Questions

    • 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 Consumer Reports and Choosing Wisely to talk to your doctor about which tests, treatments, and procedures you need — and which you don’t need.

      doctor and patient        list of questions

      To get a free copy of the 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor wallet card, send an email to healthimpact@cr.consumer.org with your name and address.

      5 QUESTIONS to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment, or Procedure

      1. 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.

      2. 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?

      3. Are there simpler, safer options?
        Sometimes all you need to do is make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or exercising more.

      4. 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.

      5. 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.
          Patient and Doctor  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.


  3. 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.
    Young People's Rights to Confidential Health Care
  • 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
 


RESOURCES

Screening Test and Preventive Treatments

  • Look up which screening tests and preventative treatments (like vaccines) are recommended before you go to the doctor:
    http://healthfinder.gov/

  • 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

Traveling

  • 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.

Medicine Safety

How to Choose a Doctor/ Physician Information

For Caregivers

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



 
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
Los Angeles County Seal: Enriching lives through effective and caring services