Choosing a health care provider is an important decision that can be overwhelming for Massachusetts consumers if they are not equipped with critical information and resources. Many questions may arise, such as: Which hospital is best at cardiac care? Does my local health care center accept my health insurance plan?
Whether searching for a hospital, health care center, doctor, dentist, or personal care attendant, there are resources and tools available to answer questions and simplify the decision-making process.
Choosing a Hospital
Though it is the mission of every hospital to give top-notch care, hospitals in Massachusetts vary in quality and cost. The Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), provides an independent comparison of patient safety, quality, and cost of care for health plans provided by Massachusetts hospitals.
For the consumer, cost of care depends on their deductible, copay, and other specifics of their individual health insurance plan. Health care consumers can search for and compare hospitals by location, provider name, condition, or procedure. For example, someone with ailing joints could compare the quality and cost of hip replacements at the three hospitals closest to them, or expectant parents could compare caesarean section rates and/or the costs of ultrasounds at various hospitals. Consumers should also check whether a specific hospital accepts their health insurance plan.
Choosing a Doctor
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, a department of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), provides a Physician Profiles website to help consumers choose a doctor.
Consumers using the “Physician Search” tool can search for a doctor by name, specialty, or proximity. Once a doctor – or group of doctors – has been identified, consumers can explore their profiles, which include information about the physician’s education and training, or certifications and awards. Consumers should also check whether a specific doctor accepts their health insurance plan.
Consumers can also find out if doctors have paid against a malpractice claim or if they have had disciplinary or criminal actions brought against them.
Choosing a Dentist
Not every dentist offers the same kind of oral care. The Member Directory of the Massachusetts Dental Society website indicates what type of dentistry each member practices, as well as where their office is located.
If cost is a factor, many health centers offer low-priced dental care on an as-needed basis.
Choosing a Community Health Care Center
Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide comprehensive care to anyone in need regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. These services range from primary, preventative, and dental care to mental health and substance abuse support. For those whose health care needs may be met by a community health center, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers provides a searchable database of health centers to help consumers locate the care they need.
Choosing a Personal Care Attendant
As people age, or battle chronic illness, it sometimes becomes difficult to continue living independently. Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) can assist individuals with day-to-day activities like laundry, cooking, personal care, and more.
MassHealth offers the Personal Care Attendant Program file size 1MB to help people with long-term disabilities live independently at home. Massachusetts residents who need PCA services can register for free access to the Massachusetts PCA referral directory to search for and contact qualified PCA candidates. The Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council also offers hiring tips to facilitate this process.
Before hiring a PCA, check the list of excluded Individuals/Entities maintained by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The MassHealth PCA program cannot pay for a PCA whose name appears on this list.