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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Choosing a Hospital

How does the hospital compare with others in my area?

One important way to learn about hospital quality is to look at hospital report cards developed by States and consumer groups. A recent study about such reports found that besides helping consumers make informed choices, they also encourage hospitals to improve their quality of care. This is a very good reason to look for and use consumer information about hospitals. Here are some ways to find such information:

  • Some States—for example, Pennsylvania, California, and Ohio—have laws that require hospitals to report data on the quality of their care. The information is then given to the public so consumers can compare hospitals.
  • Some groups gather information on how well hospitals perform and how satisfied their patients are. An example is the Cleveland Health Quality Choice Program, which is made up of businesses, doctors, and hospitals.
  • Consumer groups publish guides to hospitals and other health care choices in various cities. Find out what kind of information is available where you live by calling your State department of health, health care council, or hospital association. Also, ask your doctor what he or she thinks about the hospital.

Does my doctor have privileges at the hospital (is permitted to admit patients)?

(_) Yes (_) No

If not, you would need to be under the care of another doctor while at the hospital.

Does my health plan cover care at the hospital?

(_) Yes (_) No

If not, do you have another way to pay for your care?

If going to a certain hospital is important to you, keep that in mind when choosing a doctor and/or health plan. In general, you will go to the hospital where your doctor has "privileges."

Does the hospital have experience with my condition?

(_) Yes (_) No

For example, "general" hospitals handle a wide range of routine conditions, such as hernias and pneumonia. "Specialty" hospitals have a lot of experience with certain conditions (such as cancer) or certain groups (such as children). You may be able to choose General Hospital "X" for gallbladder surgery, Specialty Hospital "Y" if you need care for a heart condition, and Specialty Hospital "Z" for your children.

You also may want to find out if the hospital has a special team of health professionals that works with people with your condition or treatment.

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