There are steps you can take to help ensure you get quality care from your health care providers. For instance, you can ask questions, do your own research, get second opinions, and keep in mind that you have the right to accept or refuse treatment. Below is a list of questions you can ask to help ensure you receive quality care.

If your doctor gives you a diagnosis:

  • What are my treatment options, and the benefits and risks of each option?
  • Is there information about the condition that I should read?
  • Is there someone I could ask for a second and/or third opinion?
  • Are there support groups for this condition that might help me gain additional insight?

If your doctor prescribes a medication:

  • What is the medicine for (what is it intended to treat and how does it work)?
  • Will my insurance cover the prescribed drug? If not, are there other drugs that will work for me?
  • If it is a name-brand medication, is there a generic option? Is there a medical reason why I should not take the generic?
  • Does the medication have any other effects (benefits, risks, side effects) that I should be aware of? Are any of them serious enough that I should ask for a second medical opinion?
  • When should I start to feel the benefits of the medication?
  • Could the medication interact poorly with other medications I take (including over-the-counter drugs)?
  • Could a change in diet or special exercise have the same effect as the medication, or increase its effectiveness?
  • Are there options other than taking the medication?
  • What are the risks of foregoing this medication to pursue alternative solutions?

If your doctor recommends surgery:

  • Why is the surgical procedure necessary?
  • What are the benefits and risks?
  • What are the alternatives (such as medication, a change in diet, or exercise)?
  • Is there someone I could ask for a second and/or third opinion?
  • What if I decide not to have surgery?

Other tips:

  • Keep records of your doctors’ visits and notes on what you are told at each.
  • Make sure your doctors have copies of your advance directive, power of attorney, and/or other documents you have related to your future health care needs.

Note: If you think a health care provider is trying to pressure you into receiving unnecessary services, charging an unusually high amount, or billing Medicare for services you never received, they may be committing fraud.

Return to: Medicare Basics

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