Wednesday, December 03, 2008

FTC: "Who Cares" About Health Care Vendors

On November 19, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission unveiled its "Who Cares" website, and issued a parallel booklet, to provide consumer information about health care products and services.

The new website and publication were announced in a Press Release entitled "FTC Announces Health Care Booklet and Web Site for Seniors" (11/19/08).

With all the sources of health information available -- many of them online -- it can be tough to tell fact from fiction, or useful products and services from those that don’t work or aren’t safe.

To help provide reliable sources of health information to seniors and their family members, caregivers, and friends, the Federal Trade Commission has developed a new booklet and Web site.

Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services, online at, urges older consumers to discuss their health-related decisions with doctors and other trusted health care providers.

It also helps them:

  • find links to agencies and organizations that care about topics like generic drugs, hormone therapy, caregiving, surgery to improve vision, alternative medicine, hearing aids, Medicare fraud, and medical ID theft;
  • learn how to spot misleading and deceptive claims; and
  • find out who you can contact to ask questions, enlist help, or speak up if you think a health product or service isn’t living up to its promise. * * *
That Press Release noted the availability of a printed Who Cares booklet, which appears to be a replica of the initial web pages:
Copies of the Who Cares booklet can be ordered from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP. For bulk orders of the booklet, go to
This is the Table of Contents of that booklet, which also provides an overview of the website's content:
Care and Services
  • Alternative and Complementary Treatments (p. 1)
  • Assisted Living and Nursing Homes (p. 2)
  • Hiring Caregivers (p. 3)
  • Hormone Therapies (p. 4)
  • Lasik and Other Vision-Correcting Surgeries (p. 5)
  • Health Care Documents (p. 6)
Pills and Products
  • Buying Prescription Drugs Online (p. 7)
  • Dietary Supplements (p. 8)
  • Generic Drugs and Switching Prescriptions (p. 9)
  • At-Home Genetic Tests (p. 10)
  • Vision Prescription Portability (p. 11)
  • Hearing Aids (p. 12)
  • Personal Emergency Response Systems (p. 13)
  • Weight Loss Promises (p. 14)
Scams and Frauds
  • Medical ID Theft (p. 15)
  • Medicare Fraud (p. 16)
  • Medicare Part D Plans (p. 17)
  • Miracle Cures (p. 18)
  • Prescription Assistance Programs (p. 19)
How to File a Complaint (p. 20)
The Who Cares booklet (PDF, 2.94 MB, 28 pages) can be downloaded from the new website.
When viewed on a computer in Adobe Acrobat or Reader, the embedded links to Internet sources are "live", just as on the web pages.

This new FTC resource, Who Cares, should be consulted early by consumers who research medical services or products. And if a health care service or product has failed to deliver, the website can be accessed to file a complaint.