Sites That Can Help You Be Informed, Healthy, Wise

This site was founded to help consumers understand their health plan and deal with the common questions and problems that arise when joining a plan. There is much useful information, such as what to do when a claim in not paid or if a treatment recommended by a doctor is not covered. Consumers can find a checklist detailing their rights and responsibilities. The site is produced by the Employer Quality Partnership, a coalition of several leading employer associations.

Perhaps the most difficult problem for people with cancer is finding the latest treatment approaches for difficult-to-treat malignancies. There are many clinical trials underway to study emerging treatments, but they can be tough to locate. To assist consumers, the National Cancer Institute launched this site to provide information on trials and how they work. Patients will learn how to make informed decisions on trial participation.

(The National Cancer Institute, together with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, is also offering a free brochure, "Taking Part in Clinical Trials, What Cancer Patients Need to Know." To order, call the Cancer Information Service at [800] 422-6237.)

The Harvard School of Public Health has created this international site to provide information about reproductive health issues and rights. Users can find a wide range of sophisticated information from electronic journals and can join e-mail discussion groups and online conferences. There is specific information on family planning, sexually transmitted disease, abortion and maternal health. The site is intended primarily for people with a special interest in the reproductive health field.

One way to avoid getting poor-quality health information or advice on the Web is to log onto a site sponsored by a reputable organization. This is the advantage of this site from Johns Hopkins University and Health System and Aetna U.S. Healthcare. Users can access more than 2 million pages of breaking health news, medical literature, journals and research. Special features include a U.S. Department of Agriculture food label database, an "Ask the Doc" column and an online health bookstore.

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