Q: I have Medicare as my health care insurance. I am wondering if I have any say in what hospital I would use if I need that type of care. Are there any rules about where I must or could go?

A: Whether you have a choice depends on how you receive your Medicare benefits.

Those seniors who receive care through the original Medicare plan may go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare for payment. You are in the original Medicare plan if you use your red, white and blue Medicare card to receive your health care.

In the original Medicare plan, your choice could be restricted to the hospital or hospitals where your doctor has his or her privileges.

If a senior has assigned his or her Medicare benefits to a managed care plan (joined a Senior Advantage Plan) then in most cases choice will be limited to those providers and facilities that have a contract with that specific managed care plan.

Before joining such a plan, check out which providers, specialists, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are available to plan members.

The type of illness or injury could affect your choice. Sometimes a particular hospital or clinic is known for the treatment of specific illnesses or injuries. If you have a rare or serious health problem you may want to select a doctor and hospital known for treating that type of problem.

Keep in mind that no matter how you receive your Medicare benefits or what hospital you use, as a Medicare patient you have certain rights while you are in the hospital.

You have the right to get all the care you need while in the hospital and after you leave. If you feel you have been asked to leave the hospital too soon you have the right to ask for a review of that decision.

When you enter the hospital you should receive a copy of the pamphlet titled “An Important Message from Medicare.” If you do not receive this document ask for a copy. It provides details about your patient rights and what to do if you feel those rights have been violated.

If you have a life-threatening medical emergency, go to the nearest hospital for treatment. After you are stabilized your doctor and/or medical plan may make arrangements for you to be transferred to an appropriate hospital.


June 3: The Thousand Oaks Council on Aging Meeting presentation “The Answer’s Clear — Volunteer,” 1 p.m. in the boardroom at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

June 4: Senior of the Year Dinner and Award Ceremony, 5:30 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $6 and available at the Goebel Center.

June 7: Senior Concerns Love Run 10K, 5K, and 1 mile run/walk at 3011 Townsgate Road in Westlake Village. For information call 497-0189.

June 9: “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” seminar, 1:30-3 p.m. at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. For reservations call 583-6363.

June 17: “The Four Federal Government Programs You Should Understand” seminar, 1:30-3 p.m. at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. For information call the Advocate’s office at 495-6250.

June 23: The Empowered Caregiver Series presentation “Neuropsychological Testing and Usefulness for the Caregiver,” 5:30-7 p.m. at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. Call 497-0189 for reservations.

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