Saturday, 20 April 2013

Learning About Health Care

Health Care

The health care system in the U.S. can help you when

You are sick. It can also help you stay healthy.

Doctors and other health care providers are part of the

Health care system. Public health departments are also

Part of the health care system.

The health care system includes services like clinics,

community health centers and hospitals. There are

health care services that are available to all people.

For example, EVERYONE has the right to call 911 in an


To get good health care you need to understand how

the health care system works. You also need to know

what rights you have and how to get the health care

you need.


• Why are checkups important?

• When do I need emergency health care?

• How do I get help paying for health care?

Learning About

Health Care






Different Kinds of Health Care

People see a doctor for many different

reasons. People see a doctor when they are

sick and in an emergency. In the U.S. people

also see the doctor even when they are not

sick. These visits are called checkups.

When do people see a Doctor?

• For checkups

• When you are sick

• In an emergency

Checkups are Important

A checkup is a visit to the doctor to make sure

you are healthy, and to check for signs of

sickness. During a checkup your doctor may

find a problem that you did not see or feel.

Sometimes finding a problem early can save

your life.

Adults need checkups every year or every

two years, children need checkups every

year, and babies need checkups more often.

Sometimes checkups are called well visits,

because you go to the doctor when you are

well (not sick).



What Happens During a Checkup?

• First you give information about your health. You may

need to fill out a health history or medical history form.

On this form you check “yes” or “no” on a list of health

problems to show the doctor what health problems you

have had in the past.

• The doctor and nurse will check your:

3 Height and weight

3 Heart

3 Lungs

3 Eyes, Ears, Throat, Mouth

3 Blood pressure

• You may get tests or screenings to make sure you do not

have certain health problems. For example, women get

Pap tests to make sure they do not have cervical cancer.

• Children often get immunizations or shots at a checkup

to help prevent sickness.

• The doctor will talk to you about what you can do to stay

healthy. You may need to eat differently, exercise, or take


• You should talk to the doctor and ask questions about the

checkup or anything else about your health.


Where Do I go for a Checkup?

If you have a doctor for when you are sick, go to that same doctor

for a checkup. If you do not have a doctor, go to a local clinic or

health center.

You can get a checkup in many different places.

• Neighborhood or mobile clinics

• Community health centers

• Local hospitals


If you do not know where the closest free or low cost clinic is, you may call the

local health department to find out. At the end of this chapter is a list of phone

numbers and information about where to go for free or low cost health care.


Where Do I go when I am Sick?

Sometimes when you get sick you will want to see a

Doctor right away. If you have the flu, or a very bad

pain in your stomach, call your doctor or go to a

Health center.

• Describe your symptoms (how you feel).

• Tell how long you have had the symptoms.

• Ask what you need to do. Ask if you need to see

a doctor.

• Ask how you can keep others in your family

from getting the same sickness.

If you need to see the doctor, the person on the phone

or at the health center will make an appointment for

you. You may see a doctor that same day or the next

day, or they may tell you to go to the emergency room.

This is where you go for serious health problems or

when you need help right away.


Contagious diseases

are sicknesses you

get from other

people or animals.

One of the best

ways to prevent


diseases, like colds

and flu, is to wash

your hands carefully

and often.

What are



When is it an Emergency?

Emergency health care is when a person is so sick

or so injured that he or she may not live without

quick help from a doctor.

Here are some examples of emergencies.

• A heart attack

• A bad traffic accident

• A person is unconscious

• Gunshot and knife wounds

• A person can’t breathe

• Drowning

• A poisonous snake bite

To get help in an emergency, use any phone

to call 911 immediately:

• Tell what the emergency is.

• Answer all questions.

• If you cannot understand the questions, say: “I speak Spanish” (or any other

language). WAIT for someone who speaks your language. DO NOT HANG UP

the phone.

• Wait with the injured or sick person until the ambulance arrives.


The ambulance driver will decide what hospital to go to.

Even if you know the injured or sick person, you cannot ride in the

ambulance. You must get to the hospital another way.

Examples of

When to Call 911

Poisonous snake bite

Very bad accident

Chapter 1: Health Care

How Do I Get Good Health Care?

Know what your rights are and use them. This will help you get good health care.

You have a right to:

• Choose a doctor that you trust

• Ask questions about your health care

• Make decisions about your health care

• Get help to find more information

• Ask if a medical interpreter is available to help you understand your doctor

You also have a responsibility to:

• Ask questions

• Learn about your health

• Get help from others when you need it

• Make sure you understand the problem and what you need to do

• Give your doctor complete and true information

• Help make decisions about your health care

Key Points

• Do not wait until you are sick to see a doctor.

• To get good health care, know your rights.

• Ask for help at the information desk.

• Learn more about programs that can help you pay

for health care.

Check Your Learning

Why are checkups sometimes called “well visits”?

m Because you go to the doctor when you are not well

m Because you go to a doctor when you are well

m Because you go to the hospital to visit a doctor

How Do I Find My Way?

Hospitals and health centers can be confusing. Big hospitals have many health

care services. Small hospitals and health centers also have many services.


When you go to a hospital or health center, start at the Information Desk. It is in the

lobby (the big room at the main entrance -- where you first walk in).

Ask the person at the Information Desk for help finding your way.

 Chapter 1: Health Care

This chart shows signs and symbols that will help you find your

way in a hospital or health center.

Health Care Signs and Symbols

What it looks like What the signs say What happens here

Start here. Here is where you ask for

help finding your way.

Ambulances enter here. You can

bring a very sick or injured person


Health care services for children.

Where you get x-rays (pictures of the

inside of your body).

Services to help you with problems

that make it hard to take care of your

health. For example, paying for health

care or buying healthy food.

Health care services for

cancer patients.

Healthcare services for women.


Children’s Clinic




Emergency Entrance


Information Desk

Social Services

Patient Advocacy


Cancer Center



Learning Medical Words

Knowing the meaning of medical words can also help you find your way.

For example, if you are looking for a medical department for children, look for the

word “Pediatric”. The department may be called “Pediatrics” or “Pediatric Clinic” or

“Pediatric Services.” “Pediatric Radiology” is where children go to get x-rays. The

chart below has more hints about medical words and their meanings.

If the word begins like this... It probably means this...

pedi- children

cardio- heart

oral or dental teeth or mouth

derma- skin

gastro- stomach

onco- cancer

optha- eyes

psych- mind or feelings

neuro- brain

If the word ends like this... It probably means this...

-ology a department or specialty

-ologist a doctor or other person who

is a specialist

 Chapter 1: Health Care

How Do I Get Help Paying for Health Care?

The best way to pay for health care is to have health insurance. In the US, many

people get health insurance through their work, while others choose to purchase

health insurance on their own. Sometimes, you can choose between different kinds of

health insurance, also called health plans. If you have a family, you may want to choose

a family plan. If your workplace offers health insurance, be sure you understand what

the health insurance covers and how much it will cost you.

Many people in the US cannot get health insurance through their work or simply cannot

afford it. If you do not have health insurance, look for help in the community. Local

County Health Departments, clinics, community health centers and some hospitals offer

health care at no charge or for a small fee based on your income. If you want to find free

or low cost health insurance, contact one of the programs listed in the chart on page 15.

Before you sign up for health insurance be sure you understand

these things about your health insurance.

HMO (Health Maintenance


In this kind of insurance plan, you have to use the doctors and

hospitals that the company lists in their book.

PPO (Preferred Provider


In this kind of insurance plan, you can use the doctors, or hospitals, in

the company’s book, or you can choose the provider or hospital you

want. If you choose someone who is not in the book, you pay more.


With some insurance plans like HMO’s, you pay one fee every time

you see the doctor and the insurance pays the rest. For example, you

may pay $20 each visit.

Covered expenses These are things your insurance company agrees to pay for.


The amount you have to pay before your insurance company will

begin to pay.


In some insurance plans (like PPO’s) this is the percentage of your

medical bills that you have to pay after you have met your yearly


Exclusions These are things your insurance company will not pay for.

Maximum out-of-pocket


This is the highest amount you have to pay by yourself in one year.

Pre-existing conditions This is a health problem that you have before your insurance starts.


The amount you or your employer pays for your insurance coverage.

This usually comes out of your paycheck.

Programs to Help Florida Residents Pay for Health Care

 Chapter 1: Health Care

How Can the Information Desk Help?

The Information Desk is there to help you. A person at the Information Desk can answer

your questions and help you find your way.

Here is a list of questions you can ask

at the Information Desk.

• Where do I go to find a medical


• Who can I talk to get help paying for

health care?

• Where do I register?

• Where is the cafeteria?

• Where do I go for an X-ray?

• How do I make an appointment?

• I am here to visit a patient, when are

visiting hours? What room is she in?

Information Desk: May I help you?

Patient: Yes, where do I go for an X-Ray?

Information Desk: Do you have

an appointment?

Patient: Yes.

Information Desk: That’s in Radiology.

Go past the gift shop and turn right.

Look for the X-Ray sign. You’ll need to

sign in at the desk.

Patient: OK. Thanks.


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