Take Charge of Your Health
Information and tips from government sources and consumer groups
Healthcare providers: Find a doctor or other licensed healthcare provider; check a provider's license, file a complaint.
Health insurance, medical groups, and hospitals: Private insurance, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), Medicare, Medi-Cal, hospitals, nursing homes.
Fraud and scams: How to spot diet scams or bogus medical cures.
Medicines: Pharmacists, prescription drug coverage and discount programs, using medication safety.
Mental health: Psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers; finding mental health services.
Staying well: Fitness, weight control, nutrition.
Your rights: Medical privacy, end-of-life care, hospice.
Physicians and surgeon
The following information is available from the Medical Board of California:
- How to choose a doctor.
- Is your doctor Board certified?
- Check your doctor's license.
- File a complaint against a doctor or allied health professional.
- What is a licensed midwife?
- What does a medical assistants do?
- What does a physician assistant do?
Other types of healthcare providers
Consumers can find information, verify licenses, or file a complaint for each type of healthcare provider listed here.
Optometrists, other eye care professionals
Speech and hearing
- Hearing aid dispensers
Publications: Sound Advice About Hearing Aids, Consumers and the 30-Day Warranty on Hearing Aids
Private insurance, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), Medicare, Medi-Cal, hospitals, nursing homes, other facilities.
Information on private insurance and health plans is available from the California Office of the Patient Advocate, the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance.
- California Health Plan Report Card.
- Selecting group coverage through your work.
- Finding individual coverage.
- Lost your job? Keep your coverage.
- Consumer guide to health insurance.
- State and Federal agencies that oversee health plans.
- How to get the most from your health plan.
Hospital, nursing homes, and long-term facilities
- Comparing nursing homes.
- Nursing home citations by county.
- Guide to long-term care in California.
- How to find a facility in California.
- Hospital quality compare (all U.S. hospitals).
- Rating hospital quality in California.
Federally sponsored health insurance program for people 65 and older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people who have end-stage renal disease. The program has several plans
- Original Medicare Plan (Part A and Part B).
- Medicare Advantage Plans (an HMO or PPO; sometimes called Part C).
- Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
- Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Policy).
Free, individual counseling about Medicare benefits is provided by the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) in every county in California. The program is administered by the California Department of Aging. Visit the HICAP Web site or call (800) 434-0222.
California Health Advocates provides accurate, unbiased, and user-friendly information about Medicare benefits.
Californians for Patient Care offers resources and information to help people find low-cost or no-cost health care.
Medi-Cal provides health care benefits for low-income individuals and families in California. The application for Medi-Cal can be filed online or in person at your local county office. The online application is available in 11 languages.
How to spot diet scams or bogus medical cures; where to report fraud.
Health Fraud Awareness (video).
FDA 101: Health Fraud Awareness.
Beware of Online Cancer Fraud.
187 Fake Cancer Cures Consumers Should Avoid.
Who cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services.
Weight loss and fitness
Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads.
Drug coverage and discount programs, using medication safety, drug recalls.
The following information is from the California State Board of Pharmacy:
- Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
- Understanding your prescription label.
- Measuring liquid medicine.
- Herbals that interact with medicine.
- Do's and don'ts of pill splitting.
- Generic drugs.
- Drug discount programs.
- How to file a complaint about a pharmacy or pharmacist.
Possible Dangers of Buying Medicine Over the Internet from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Medicines in My Home
Prescription Drug Advertising
This U.S. Food and Drug Administration site encourages consumers to be smart about prescription drug advertising and encourages consumers to report ads that appear false or misleading.
This Food and Drug Administration site offers information about over-the-counter medications, including how to choose, how to buy and use, safe pain relievers and fever reducers, and safe daily use of aspirin.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers; finding mental health services.
Information on mental health professionals:
- Marriage and family therapists
- Clinical social workers
- Psychiatric technicians
The Board of Behavioral Sciences offers the following:
- Self-Empowerment: Choosing a Mental Health Professional in California.
- Be cautious when choosing online psychotherapy.
- How to find mental health services.
- Aging and mental health.
- Talk With Your Doctor About Depression.
- For Your Peace of Mind: A Consumer Guide to Psychological Services. from the California Board of Psychology.
Fitness, weight control, nutrition, preventing injuries and illnesses.
Weight loss and nutrition
- Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-Loss Program from the Weight Control Information Network.
- MyPyramid Food Guidance System nutrition tips and advice for children, moms-to-be, and adults.
- Steps to a healthier weight guidelines for food choices and physical activity.
- Physical fitness guidelines from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
- Get Active! from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Help Your Child Stay at a Healthy Weight.
- Watch Your Weight.
- This California Poison Control System offers poison control information online in 13 different languages. Toll-free phone: (800) 222-1222.
- Whirlpool Footspa Safety from the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
- Medical Spas: What You Need to Know.
- Start at the Store: Prevent Foodborne Illness (video) with safe food handling practices.
Medical privacy, end of life care.
- Fact Sheet on Medical Records Privacy from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
- Patient access to medical records from the Medical Board of California.
- Understanding Health Information Privacy, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Your Healthcare Rights, including patient's bill of rights, from Californians for Patient Care.
- Your medical privacy protection rights from the California Office of Privacy Protection.
End of life care
- Advance Health Care Directive and Advance Health Care Directive registry.
- End of life care: Choosing to live well.
- Talking about your final wishes from AARP.