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What right do I have in choosing the person providing for my health needs?
Your right to choose a health care provider that meets your need include picking a male or female doctor, someone who speaks the same language as you or a physician who is LGBTQ culturally competent. It is important to note that this right cannot be guaranteed in an emergency or crisis situation.
I want to find a specialist; where do I start?
Begin by contacting your health insurance provider and asking for a list of providers in your area. Typically, this list can be emailed or mailed to you. You may also ask them to provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of the specialists. You’ll also want to ask if a referral is required for you to see the specialist. Once you decide on the specialist that you want to see, have your primary care doctor fax a referral to the specialist.
If you do not have insurance and are in need of a specialist, check with a local community health center or county health board for low-cost medical specialist options.
What can I do if I feel like my doctor isn’t listening to my concerns?
To ensure that your voice is being heard, here are some things that you can do:
Before every appointment, write down your concerns about your health and bring them with you to your appointment. As the doctor answers them, write down the responses.
Have someone you trust and can provide you with support attend your appointments with you.
Ask the nurse, medical assistant or another staff that you feel comfortable with in the doctor’s office for solutions on how to engage with the doctor.
Can I be alone with my doctor during my appointments?
Yes. You can ask that your parent/guardian leave the exam room. If you are not comfortable asking this, you may want to ask the doctor to have them to leave the exam room.
What’s a “well-check” exam?
This is a yearly physical health check-up typically done by your primary care doctor. At this check-up, your doctor typically examines your entire body & also checks your joints, abdomen, eyes, ears, strength, coordination & basic cognitive functioning. It’s also a time for you to discuss any changes in your health since your last doctor visit.
What are “Preventive Services” under the Affordable Care Act?
Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. “Obamacare”) are benefits that a health insurance provider must cover without any cost to you. These include services sexual transmitted infection (STI) counseling, immunizations, contraception, vision and dental exams to name a few. In total, there are over 60 preventive services covered by the ACA.
Do I need to get my parent/guardian’s permission to get birth control?
No. As long as your doctor provides you with the counseling required before prescribing contraception, there is not a requirement for parent/guardian consent.
Can I get into a program to help me quit smoking?
Yes. You can call 1.800.Quit.Now to enroll in a free program to help you stop smoking. If you are a minor, you will need permission from your parent/guardian to enroll into the program.
What right do I have to access a program for alcohol and drugs without needing consent or permission?
You can have the right to obtain confidential counseling and treatment for alcohol and/or drugs without obtaining parental/guardian consent.
Do I need my parent/guardian to make my own doctor appointment?
No. You have the right to access both medical and mental wellness treatment on your own and without parental/guardian consent.
Can I find my own counselor?
Yes, you have the right to find a counselor and obtain treatment for your mental wellness needs. If you’re a minor, you are limited to 6 sessions (or 30 days – whichever comes first) before your treatment has to stop and your parent has to be informed.
What is “mental health parity”?
The term “mental health parity” refers to health insurance treating mental wellness services just as equal to other medical services that you may receive. Prior to ACA, mental wellness services were treated as a substandard service by the health insurance industry.
Are mental wellness treatment records public?
No. Any treatment for mental wellness is completely private and confidential. It is also afforded extra protection under HIPAA.
What does it mean to be “pink-slipped”?
The process of being “pink-slipped” involves a qualified medical professional who, after an assessment, requires that you to stay in the hospital due to a mental wellness emergency. These types of hospital stays are typically short stays. In general, the term “pink-slipped” is considered a derogatory term and is not favored for usage.
What is HIPAA and why should it matter to me?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is federal legislation that was passed to help protect your privacy. It affords you the following protections:
Your doctor and health insurance provider must tell you how they use information about your health and who they tell that information to.
You have the right request a report of everyone that your doctor and insurance provider has given information about your health to, and even ask for a specific report that lists any atypical disclosures. You can also request changes to inaccurate information on the information that they have distributed.
Your formal consent must be given to share your information.
Additional, special protections for mental wellness records
HIPAA also applies when it comes to receiving treatment. In Ohio, youth and young adults do have some rights with regard to confidentiality to privacy when it comes to receiving medical care and treatment. It is important to note that when it comes billing, if you are on your parent/guardian’s insurance, they may receive a bill for a service (contraception, counseling, STI treatment, etc.) that you have not yet discussed with them. This is why it is important for you to identify someone who can help you to have these important, crucial conversations with your parent/guardian.
*It is important to note that if you choose to maintain your privacy and confidentiality, while you will still have the right to access treatment, if consent has not been granted, your parent/guardian will not be responsible for payment. This means that insurance cannot be billed.
If safety is a concern, please consider accessing a community health center or county health department for a referral to a low-cost option.
The right to file a formal complaint with Health & Human Services for violation of any HIPAA rules.
Do I have the right to know the expected cost of a procedure?
Yes. You have the right to know and be told upfront the approximate cost of a medical procedure that a doctor is advising to get. This includes having a breakdown of the associated costs. You also have the right to:
Look for a more affordable provider
You will always want to be mindful that this may not be an option in an emergency situation. Also, you will want to take into consideration your own health and well-being needs when weighing out all of the rights and options.
Set up a payment plan in advance