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Plan for Your Health Launches Campaign to Improve Doctor-Patient Communication

New Guidelines in 'Hable Con Su Medico' Program Offer Spanish-Speaking Patients Tips for More Effective Doctor Appointments

HARTFORD, Conn., July 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Understanding complicated medical information can be difficult for all Americans. But for the approximately 21 million people in the United States who have limited English proficiency, miscommunication at the doctor's office can lead to poor medical care and make even a simple visit confusing and overwhelming. To help Spanish-speaking Americans communicate more effectively with their doctors, Plan for Your Health, the public education program from Aetna (NYSE: AET) and the Financial Planning Association(R) (FPA), launched the Hable Con Su Medico (Talking to Your Doctor) program at the National Council of La Raza Annual Conference. The new program provides consumers with practical advice on how to make the most of their doctor's appointments.

"Direct communication between physicians and their patients is crucial. Language barriers or misunderstandings should never prevent patients from receiving the best health care possible, but unfortunately I've seen firsthand that it does," said Haydee Muse, M.D., Senior Medical Director, Aetna. "Poor communication - or lack of communication - can result in embarrassment, confusion and fear for patients. In some cases, it can impact the quality of care because physicians don't have the information they need to understand a patient's condition or because a patient may not be able to understand their physician."

The Hable Con Su Medico program will help Spanish-speaking patients learn how to take control of their health. The new, easy-to-follow guidelines developed by Plan for Your Health will empower patients with the information they need to better communicate with their doctors and, ultimately, help to ensure that they receive quality medical care. The guidelines provide the following four steps patients can follow to make their next visit to the doctor more successful:

-- Prepare: Helpful tips on getting ready for your next visit to the doctor

-- Share: Health-related information that is important to tell your doctor and how to share it

-- Ask: Advice on important questions to ask your doctor

-- Act: Suggestions on ways to follow your doctor's recommendations and improve your overall health

The full guidelines can be viewed in Spanish at, or in English at Helpful information and tips for working with a translator and getting the most out of health benefits are also available on these sites.

"Regardless of what language a patient speaks, following the Hable Con Su Medico guidelines before, during and after doctor's visits will help improve communication and overall health," said Dr. Muse. "While there are federal and state laws that mandate language services for people with limited English proficiency, and translators in some medical offices, these efforts are sometimes not enough. The guidelines may seem like small steps, but following them will make a big difference in the care received."

Aetna launched the Plan for Your Health consumer education campaign in partnership with the Financial Planning Association in English in September 2004. Planifique Para Su Salud and Hable Con Su Medico are extensions of the program to help all Americans make smart health benefits and financial planning decisions. The campaign Web site,, offers culturally-relevant tips, tools and information to help consumers choose, use and get the most value from their health benefits.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.

About Plan for Your Health

Plan for Your Health, a public education campaign from Aetna and the Financial Planning Association, gives consumers the information they need to make health benefits and financial choices that meet their needs now and in the future. The Web site focuses on five life events when women need to re-examine their health benefits - career, marriage, family, living single and retirement - and offers consumer-friendly tools, tips and content that support well-informed decision-making.

About The Financial Planning Association(R) (FPA(R))

FPA is the leadership and advocacy organization connecting those who provide, support and benefit from professional financial planning. FPA demonstrates and supports a professional commitment to education and a client-centered financial planning process. Based in Denver, Colo., FPA has over 100 chapters throughout the country representing more than 28,000 members involved in all facets of providing financial planning services. Working in alliance with academic leaders, legislative and regulatory bodies, financial services firms and consumer interest organizations, FPA is the community that fosters the value of financial planning and advances the financial planning profession.

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