Many websites on the internet offer medical advice and information, but much of this information is inaccurate or is based on personal opinion. It’s important to use sites that provide accurate, current information. Listed below are government sites which you may find useful for accessing medical information.
Department of Health Care Services
The Department of Healthcare Services provides information about healthcare services available in California and information about health care laws, data and statistics about health issues, and links to forms and publications.
Click on the Department of Health Care Services on the left side of the page to enter the site. You will see the following four sections – Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal Providers, Your Health, and Health Resources. A Health Care Services A-Z Index is located on the left side of the page. Click on this link to view an alphabetical index of topics contained on the site.
Within the Medi-Cal section you will find information about how to apply for Medi-Cal and links to the forms you will need. Medi-Cal provider information and answers to frequently asked billing questions are also provided.
In the Your Health Section, click on the More button at the bottom, then click on All Programs and Services for an extensive listing of programs organized by topic.
California Department of Public Health
The California Department of Public Health provides information about diseases and conditions, information about obtaining birth, death, and marriage certificates, and licensing and certification information.
To learn more about diseases and conditions, click on the link on the left side of the page. This will lead you to an A-Z index of diseases and conditions. Click on the disease or condition you’d like to learn more about.
To learn about obtaining birth, death, and marriage certificates, click on the link at the left of the page. Please note that due to changes in California law, the Vital Records Index is no longer available online. In order to view the Index, you will need to visit the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s office at 1106 Madison Street in Oakland.
This site is a good place to start if you’d like to learn more about HMOs, PPOs and/or how to choose a medical plan or medical provider. The site offers side-by-side comparisons of health plan services, health plan quality ratings, health insurance plan ratings, and health care provider ratings. It also provides checklists and worksheets to help you prepare for doctor visits.
To learn more about health care plans:
- Click on the Health Plan Basics tab near the top of the page. This will take you to a page that describes HMOs, PPOs, and how to choose a plan. You can also compare health plans by clicking on one of the links under the Compare Health Plans heading.
To find health plan insurance ratings and health care provider ratings:
- Click on the Quality Report Card tab near the top of the page.
- Under Health Insurance Plan ratings, click on the type of plan you’d like to review. This will lead to the Ratings at-a-Glance page.
To learn more about your rights as a patient:
- Click on the Patient Rights tab near the top of the page.
- Click on the topic you’d like to explore.
- On the left side of the page you will see a link to Health Worksheets. Click on this link to download and print worksheets that you can take with you to the doctor or store for future reference. Worksheet topics include My Medicine, My Health History, Prepare for a Hospital Stay, Prenatal Care, and Care for Children, among many others.
On this site you will find information about low cost health, dental, and vision insurance for children and teens who do not have insurance and who do not qualify for free Medi-Cal.
To find out if you qualify, click the HF Program tab at the top of the page, then click on income guidelines on the left side of the page.
To find a plan, click on the Plans & Providers tab at the top of the page, then follow the step-by-step instructions provided.
This site lists health programs and services available in Alameda County, including low-cost clinics.
To search for clinics, click on the Clinics tab at the top of the page. This will lead to a listing of clinics organized by clinic type.
To view the many topics covered in this site, click on one of the letters in the A-Z index at the top of the page. Some of the many topics covered on the site include Data and Statistics, Diseases and Conditions, Healthy Living, Traveler’s Health, Workplace Safety and Health, Environmental Health, and Injury, Violence and Safety.
This site contains an A-Z Health Topics list, which includes information on drugs, supplements, and herbs, information on clinical trials, alternative medicine, and other health information organized by Body Location/Symptoms, Health & Wellness, Conditions & Diseases, and Procedures.
To search for information, simply click on the Health Information tab near the top of the page, then click on appropriate letter on the A-Z subject list or click on the appropriate topic in the Browse Health Categories section.
NIH Radio is a special feature on this site. To access audio reports through NIH radio, click on the Health tab near the top of the page, then scroll halfway down the page. You will see a link to NIH radio on the right side of the page. Click on MP3 Audio Reports to access NIH radio. Current health information is offered through three different audio programs. The “NIH Audio Reports” are short broadcasts based on current press releases. NIH “Health Matters 60-Second Spots” are one minute reports broadcast daily. These first two broadcasts are used mainly by radio outlets and other media sources. “NIH Research Radio” podcasts are longer, weekly reports developed to provide health information to a general audience.
This site is provided by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health and offers much information on numerous health topics and about drugs and supplements. A special feature is the Videos and Cool Tools section where you can view health videos on surgical procedures, human anatomy, and interactive health tutorials to help you learn more about health issues.
To access the video section, click on the Videos and Cool Tools tab near the top of the page then click on either Interactive Tutorials, Anatomy Videos, or Surgery Videos and choose a video from the list provided.
The Drugs & Supplements section provides information such as dosage, side effects, and special precautions. You can search drugs by generic or brand name. Just click on the Drugs and Supplements tab near the top of the page, then click on the A-Z list to learn more about drugs or click on All Herbs and Supplements.
To learn more about diseases, click on the Health Topics tab near the top of the page to read about symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention for more than 900 diseases and conditions.
This site, provided by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, contains more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, science journals and electronic books. Tutorials are provided within the site for searching for publications.
On this site you will find safety information about food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. Animal and veterinary topics are also included.
To find information about medical devices:
- Click on the Medical Devices tab near the top of the page.
- Scroll down to Medical Device Topics and click on Medical Device Safety. Here you will find a listing of recent medical device recalls. If you want to search for a particular device, enter the name of the device in the search box near the top of the page.
If you want to learn more about a specific drug:
- Click on the Drugs tab near the top of the page.
- Scroll down to the search box and type the name of the drug. You can search for cosmetics and food in the same way, using the Cosmetics and Food tabs near the top of the page.
Other useful resources include Food Facts for Consumers located within the food section and Drug Recalls located under Recalls & Alerts within the Drugs section.
Here you will find information about planning a healthy diet, weight management, dietary supplements, recipes, and food assistance programs. One particularly useful component is the What’s in Food database, which allows you to find nutrient information on nearly 8,000 different foods.
To search the What’s in Food database:
- Click on the link for What’s in Food under Browse Topics on the left side of the page.
- Then click on USDA National Nutrient Database Online Search.
- Next click on Start Your Search Here and scroll down the list to find the food you want to research.
- You may also enter search terms in the search box to find a particular food or you may click on one of the food topics listed on the left side of the page, then select a food item. You will see a breakdown of the nutrients in the food item you selected.
To search for recipes:
- Click on Shopping, Cooking, and Meal Planning under Browse Topics on the left side of the page.
- Click on Cooking Methods and Recipes, then click on Recipes and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Meals.
Health Care Reform
To read about the Affordable Care Act, click on the About the New Law tab below the video.
This site allows you to search of health insurance plans and to compare insurance providers.
To search for an insurance plan:
- Choose California in the drop down box under Explore Your Coverage & Pricing Options, then click Go.
- Answer the questions provided and click Next.
- Answer the next set of questions and click next.
- Read through the list of options and click Learn More for the option that best describes your situation.
- Fill out the form provided and click Submit.
- Read through the information provided, then click on Show Me the Plans. You will receive a list of insurance plans and prices available to you.
To compare physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and dialysis clinics:
- Click on the Comparing Care Providers link near the top of the page.
- Click on the Visit the Website box for the type of comparison you’d like to see.
- Answer the questions and proceed following the individual instructions provided for each section.
The text of the health care law is also available on this site. Click on The Healthcare Law and You tab at the top of the page and then click on Read the Law.
Direct Links to Health Care Reform Legislation
You can read the text from the law at these links. The files are large so may take a while to load.
Comparative Health Care Reform Tools
The following links contain information to help you determine the impact of health care bill for you and your family.
- Christian Science Monitor
- Kaiser Family Foundation Side-by-Side Comparisons
- New York Times
- Washington Post