By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer
Other than depending on recommendations from doctors, friends and family, consumers still find it hard to shop around for health-care services.
But help is available, and there are more resources now than there were a few years ago. Some provide free service, others charge a fee - and consumers still must exercise good judgment in evaluating their worth. Among resources:
Checking out doctors, hospitals, health plans:
National Committee for Quality Assurance:
Accredits managed care health plans, rating them on a four-star scale on categories including access to care, training of network doctors and preventive health services.
Consumers' Checkbook 800-213-7283.
Offers guides to top hospitals, doctors and health plans.
Offers grades on hospitals, nursing homes, hospice services, fertility clinics and home health agencies. It also offers physician profiles by name and specialty.
Publishes ratings of HMOs, PPOs and a wide variety of health-related products and services.
U.S. News & World Report
Publishes an annual "America's Best Hospitals'' survey, including rankings by care specialty.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Produces extensive databases of health services and offers consumer tips for dealing with health-care providers.
Publishes a state-by-state list of "questionable doctors," based on disciplinary actions taken by state medical boards.
American Medical Association
AMA's "Doctor Finder" feature offers a national listing of doctors by specialty, which shows training and accreditations but does not rate doctors on quality factors.
National Physicians DataSource LLC:
Allows people to search for doctors by ZIP code.
Source: Enquirer research
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