(Family Features) Getting health care for yourself or a loved one is a big responsibility, especially if you’re just getting started with Medicare or have changes in your life, such as a new diagnosis of a condition or disease. It can be overwhelming if you need services like nursing home care, have to find a new doctor or get home health care.
Using online tools like “Find Care Providers” on Medicare.gov can make it easier to make comparisons and help choose doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and more for you or the person you are helping provide care to. Consider these benefits of using the comparison tools to narrow your options.
A Resource for Research
The website provides a simple search and compare experience that allows you to find providers near you. Simply put in a ZIP code and the type of provider to receive a list of providers, their contact information and a map of locations. The information even includes “star ratings” and services provided. The tool can be used to find all sorts of providers, including doctors, hospitals, home health care agencies, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation providers, hospice and dialysis facilities.
For example, two sisters needed to find a nursing home that was right for their father. This proved to be a difficult, emotional decision. They didn’t know what nursing homes were in the area where he lives, so they entered his ZIP code and searched for nursing homes. They then received a list of each one in his area, complete with ratings as well as staffing data and inspection reports.
Using a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile device, you can see how patients rate their care experiences at the hospitals in your area and find home health agencies that offer the services you might need, like nursing care, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Contact information for local inpatient rehabilitation facilities or long-term care hospitals is available, as well as hospice quality care ratings and specific care details, such as which dialysis facilities offer home dialysis training.
Finding Health Care Services
Many factors influence who you trust with your health care. In some cases, family, caregivers or friends may offer referrals to a doctor or medical facility based on their own experiences, and that can be a helpful guide.
Whether you have referrals or are starting from scratch, you can compare health care providers near you using the Medicare.gov tool, pinpointing which category of services you need, whether it’s doctors and clinicians, hospitals, hospice and home health agencies, dialysis facilities, inpatient rehabilitation centers or nursing homes.
In addition to searching by your location using your address or a combination of city, state or ZIP code, you can search by provider type and keyword to generate a list of providers that could fit your needs.
Finding a Doctor Who Fits
When you’re looking for a new doctor and not sure where to start, the tool makes it quick and easy to find and compare doctors in your area. You can find contact information, practice locations, specialty and hospital affiliation as well as hospital ratings.
Selecting the “compare” button allows you to compare up to three different health care providers at once. When you’re ready to schedule a visit with a new provider, be sure to take time during your scheduling call to verify general information, like the office location, whether the office is accepting new patients with Medicare and whether you need a referral to be treated.
Comparing Nursing Homes
Whether you’re planning ahead or need to make an unexpected decision, there’s a lot to think about when choosing the right nursing home for you or someone else. Many family members and caregivers prioritize location so they’re able to check in and visit frequently, but there are many other important factors you may want to consider, too.
The comparison tool at Medicare.gov provides filtering options that allow you to personalize your results by sifting through the criteria that matter most to you, such as inspection results, number of beds, staffing data and more.
You’ll be able to check out the nursing home’s overall “star ratings.” The information can serve as a guide of a provider’s track record to help assist you with finding a home that best suits the person’s needs.
Visit Medicare.gov/care-compare to access the tool and find health care providers and services in your area that fit your needs.
Paid for by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Making decisions as a caregiver can be challenging but taking advantage of available resources can help you feel more confident in your choices.
For example, Medicare.gov allows you to find information about health care providers, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, home health agencies, dialysis facilities, inpatient rehab and long-term care hospitals near you. The website also provides quality ratings, so you can see the provider or facility’s history of service, among other details that help you make the most informed decision on behalf of the person you’re helping.Photos courtesy of Getty Images