Insurance Companies Get In On The

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While consumer and government sites provide an abundance of information, don't forget your health insurance company. Many insurers, including Aetna, Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Prudential, and others, have excellent sites with a great deal of health information. One of the best is InteliHealth from Aetna (see Figure 5.14).

Featuring data from the Harvard Medical School, InteliHealth provides news and information, health-related articles, expert advice, weight loss tools, medical and drug dictionaries, a health directory, message boards, and much more. It's free to everyone, not just Aetna subscribers, and the site takes great pains to assure visitors that it is independent and that content is created by Aetna editors and editors from the Harvard Medical School. Other health insurers are not as ambitious as Aetna, but they do offer resources with information for their customers. Kaiser Permanente, for example, offers HealthMedia, a site that provides basic information about living a healthy life. Several insurance companies don't have their own Web sites, preferring instead to provide information via WebMD. These providers let subscribers use the vast resources of WebMD for medical information and the WebMD interface to find health-plan-specific information, such as how to find a physician, request replacement ID cards, check the status of claims, change their address, and more.

FIGURE 5.14 Aetna's InteliHealth Site is one of the best from an insurance company and features data from the Harvard Medical School.

(WebMD Practice Services and Medscape), healthcare companies (WebMD Envoy, as well as plan-specific sites, as mentioned in the preceding sidebar), and consumers (WebMD Health). We'll spend most of our time talking about WebMD Health (see Figure 5.15).

WebMD Health is a vast site covering nearly anything related to health. It includes news; quizzes; calculators; polls; expert advice; community services; symptom and disease information; message boards; a learning center; a drug and herb guide; women-, men-, and lifestyle-specific data; information about diet and nutrition; and much more. There are also subscription sites for weight loss and fertility, and an innovative product called Health Manager that provides personalized information and the ability to track medical history online.

Diseases & Conditions is one of the most used areas on WebMD (see Figure 5.16). It includes an exhaustive directory of diseases and conditions, including several links that are sponsored by advertisers. Clicking on a particular condition brings up an article about it, tips on how to deal with it, medical data from the Cleveland Clinic, a directory of clinical trials about your condition, quizzes and tools, and a section called We Knew You'd Want to Know, which covers tips and techniques for dealing with the condition.

Since being overweight is a condition, WebMD includes an excellent Weight Control Health Center (see Figure 5.17).There are articles, quizzes, tools, tips, facts from the Cleveland Clinic, and lots of data about a variety of obesity-related subjects.

FIGURE 5.15 WebMD Health
FIGURE 5.16 Diseases & Conditions is an exhaustive database of information from WebMD.
FIGURE 5.17 The Weight Control Health Center on WebMD includes lots of articles, quizzes, tools, and other information.

WebMD's Medical Library is without peer. It includes an interactive symptom checker (see Figure 5.18), an A-Z library of medical terms, a directory that describes nearly all medical tests, a drug and herb guide, and a listing of all clinical trials. You can also ask questions of the more than 30 medical experts on WebMD in a wide variety of areas, from weight loss to heart disease to female issues to attention deficit disorder.

The symptom checker features a number of yes or no questions that will lead you to a diagnosis. There is also an overview of the topic, health risks, home treatment, prevention, and a wide variety of related information that may lead you to determine what is ailing you (see Figure 5.19).

WebMD's more than 200 message boards are well traveled, with a variety of support groups on a number of topics (AIDS, aging, addiction, arthritis, cancer, cholesterol, dental health, infertility, men's issues, women's issues, and weight loss, among others) plus boards hosted by an expert (ADD/HD, cancer, diabetes, dieting, general health, sleep disorders) and some tips on topics such as skin care and others. There are also live events most weekdays at 2:00 pm Eastern time. These events are hosted by WebMD experts who cover a wide variety of topics from childhood obesity to parenthood to cancer and more. Archives of most live events are available long after the event has passed. Although most of WebMD is free, it also offers three subscription services for weight loss, health records, and infertility. The Weight Loss Clinic costs $99 for six months and $9.95 per month after that, or $60 for three months and $14.95 per month after that. It includes personalized meal plans, a food journal, community support from their message boards, news about weight loss, fitness tips, and recipe ideas, among other features (see Figure 5.20).

FIGURE 5.18 WebMD's symptom checker provides data for literally / different injuries, diseases, and illnesses.
FIGURE 5.19 WebMD's symptom checker helps you resolve common and uncommon maladies. In this case, there is lots of information about a sore throat.

FIGURE 5.20 The Weight Loss Clinic at WebMDprovides meal plans, nutritional tools, and other information to help users lose weight.

FIGURE 5.20 The Weight Loss Clinic at WebMDprovides meal plans, nutritional tools, and other information to help users lose weight.

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