skip to nav skip to content

Project Details

How to Use Your Health Plan

Photo for "How to Use Your Health Plan" guide
Project Summary: 

"How to Use Your Health Plan" (formerly "California’s HMO Guide") is a unique, user-friendly resource for people who are in HMOs or PPOs or thinking about enrolling in one. The guide is based on best practices in health communication and health literacy. It is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese and is distributed by the California Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA).

The guide covers choosing a health plan, communicating with your doctor, making decisions about treatment and benefits, and dealing with problems. It explains difficult topics like hospice, long-term care, and getting an Independent Medical Review. It includes websites and toll-free phone numbers where people can find more information or assistance.

Main Findings: 

A qualitative evaluation and a quasi-experimental quantitative study of the original HMO Guide guide were conducted. Of the 500 participants recruited in a range of settings, 92% remembered receiving a guide 11 weeks later. Most said that they had read or looked at least some part of the guide. Participants reported significant increases in their knowledge, confidence, and positive health behaviors (from before receiving the guide to the time of the interview) related to 21 specific health care issues addressed in the guide. Most people shared the guide with a family member, friend, or neighbor.

Project Type: 
Contact Person: 
Kathy Simpson
Contact Person's Email Address:
Health Research for Action, UC Berkeley
Principal Investigators: 
Professor Linda Neuhauser
Office of the Patient Advocate
Location - States: