SOURCE: Office of the Patient Advocate

Office of the Patient Advocate

August 31, 2009 13:39 ET

Simple Tips to Save Money and Still Get Good Health Care

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - August 31, 2009) - Recent reports show that more and more people are cutting back on their health care or medicines to save money. But cutting back to save money isn't always the best solution, especially when it comes to doctor's appointments and required medicines. California's Office of the Patient Advocate encourages Californians to keep up with their health care while asking for other ways to keep medical costs down. To assist in this effort, the Office of the Patient Advocate offers simple tips and tools to help Californians talk to their doctor about keeping their medical costs down while still getting the most out of their health care:

-- Talk to your doctor if health care treatment or prescription costs are a concern for you. Your doctor may be able to give you good advice on more affordable treatments or options like generic drugs.

-- Ask your doctor's office about payment plans for treatment, tests or medical equipment. You might even be able to negotiate a discount from your doctor.

-- If you're not sure whether you need to see the doctor, call and ask before making an appointment -- don't make the decision on your own.

-- For more tips on talking to your doctor, visit the Office of the Patient Advocate Web site at www.opa.ca.gov.

"Even in a tough economy, there are ways to save money without letting your health care suffer," said Sandra Perez, director of the California Office of the Patient Advocate. "Talking to your doctor about all your concerns can help you get better health care while keeping your costs down."

To help Californians ask the right questions about health care costs and treatments, the Office of the Patient Advocate offers easy-to-use online tools such as the Make the Most of Doctor Visits worksheet. This worksheet acts as a guide for patients to use when they go to the doctor. It features a checklist for doctor visits such as what to bring and what questions to ask before, during and after an appointment. This free tool and other health care resources are available at www.opa.ca.gov/healthcare.

Health care plays an important role in the lives of all Californians. The Office of the Patient Advocate seeks to provide Californians with the information and tools needed to make informed health care decisions and get the most out of their health insurance plan. In addition to free educational materials, the Office of the Patient Advocate releases an annual health care quality report card rating the largest health insurance plans and doctors' medical groups in the state on quality of care and patient satisfaction as rated by members of the plan. There are also easy links to report cards on hospitals, nursing homes, PPOs, Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Healthy Families.

The Office of the Patient Advocate is an office in state government established in 2000 to inform and educate Californians about their rights and responsibilities as health insurance plan members and to teach them how to get the most out of their health care. To learn more about getting the most out of your health care, or to download health worksheets and other health care-related tools, visit www.opa.ca.gov.