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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Questionnaire For The Doctor's Staff


  1. Number the questions 1 - 17 in the order of your priorities. Before contacting the doctor's office, push the button which says "Reorder" and the questions will automatically be re-ordered according to your priorities. You can then ask as many or as few questions as you want, in your priority.
  2. Print one copy of the questionnaire for each doctor you contact.
  3. Make notes about the answers on the form.
  4. Also note the questions raised in "Additional Considerations To Think About When You Hang Up" to help you remember impressions that are not part of the answers to your questions.

Is the doctor accepting new patients?

Does the doctor take my health insurance?

  • If you have Managed Care insurance:
    • Does the office accept it? If the answer is no, and the doctor is head an shoulders above your other choices, ask if the doctor will consider joining your plan. If the answer is "no", ask "why?" You may learn something useful about your plan.
    • Does the office waive co-payments? They're not supposed to, but many doctors do.
  • If you have Fee-For-Service (Indemnity) Insurance
    • Will the office accept assignment of my benefits as full payment?
    • Will the office do the paperwork or do you have to?
  • If you have Medicare:
    • Does the office accept Medicare?
  • If you have Medicaid
    • Does the office accept Medicaid?
  • If you do not have insurance:
    • What does the doctor charge for office visits?
    • Is the doctor willing to negotiate fees?

Is the office accessible to me?

If accessibility is an issue for you:
Is the office on the ground floor?
If not, does the building have an elevator?

With which hospital is the doctor affiliated?

Doctors cannot work in hospitals unless they have an affiliation with the hospital. The key is to find out what hospital the doctor can see you in if you need to be hospitalized.

What are the doctor's hours?

  • What are the hours the doctor sees patients?
  • On what days?
  • How can the doctor be reached after hours?

What's the scoop with appointments?

  • Generally, how long does it take to get an appointment?
  • How long do patients who come on time generally have to wait to see the doctor?
  • What is the cancellation policy if I can't make an appointment?

(If applicable) Does the doctor speak (identify your first language if it's not English)?

If not, is there someone in the office who can translate for me? Does the doctor have other means to translate for me, such as a service we can call when I'm with the doctor?

Does the doctor provide a free initial interview?

Don't expect the answer to be yes, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

What is the procedure in case I have an emergency?

Does the doctor charge patients fees beyond the fee for a visit or for services?

Some doctors charge for additional items such as telephone consultations, paperwork and other services that are usually free.

  • If Medicare is involved, this may not be legal since additional fees cannot be charged
  • If you have a Managed Care policy, extra charges may be prohibited in the plan

Who covers for the doctor when she is not available?

What are his/her credentials? Check the person's credentials the same way you checked the doctor you are calling.

Does the doctor give advice over the telephone or through email or fax?

If I call during office hours, does the doctor speak with me then, or generally call back? If she calls back, when?

Is there an extra charge for speaking with the doctor on the telephone or contact by email or fax?

How do i get renewals of drugs or continuation of treatment when i'm not present with the doctor?

What if the doctor isn't available?

Does the office send reminders about prevention tests, such as pap smears and flu shots?

If you are concerned about what would happen if the specialist wrongs you, consider asking the following questions. However, if you do, do not be surprised if the specialist doesn't have time to see you. Even a polite question in this area may indicate to staff that you are litigious and to be avoided.

Will the doctor allow someone to accompany me during my visit and/or record our visit?

Does the doctor require a hold harmless agreement?

More doctors are requiring patients to sign agreements promising not to sue for "frivolous" reasons, or sometimes, for any reason at all.

Does the doctor have malpractice insurance?

Because of growing insurance costs, a growing number of doctors are going without insurance. This means the doctor, rather than a deep pocketed insurance company, is responsible for any judgment or settlement -- which can mean less money for you, or none at all, if the doctor messes up. Consider saying something like: "I am not a person who goes around suing people, but I have heard about this and am curious. Does the doctor have malpractice insurance?"

If the doctor doesn't have malpractice insurance, does he or she have a fund of money available in case of a judgment?

Has the doctor ever been sued? If so, what was the result of the suits?

Will your health insurance cover your costs if the doctor has no insurance?


Additional Considerations To Think About When You Hang Up

Did the person you spoke with sound professional and competent?

  • Yes
  • No

Was the person friendly or polite and willing to discuss your answers?

  • Yes
  • No

Did the person sound harried, and uninterested in helping you?

  • Yes
  • No

If the office was not able to answer your questions when you called, did they offer, or are they willing, to speak with you at another time?

  • Yes
  • No