Skip to main content

Member rights and responsibilities

As a member, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Choose your primary care provider from our Provider Directory.
  • Get appointments within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Take part in discussions and decisions about your healthcare, including proper or medically necessary treatment choices for your conditions.
  • Have confidential communications with your providers.
  • Have your records kept confidential. We will not share your healthcare information without your written approval or unless it is allowed by law.
  • Voice your concerns about KFHC or about health services you received to KFHC.
  • Request a State Fair Hearing.
  • Get information about KFHC, our services and participating providers.
  • Make recommendations about your rights and responsibilities.
  • See, correct and a get a copy of your medical records.
  • Request your medical records in an electronic format. You may also have the medical records sent to a designee provided that choice is clear and specific.
  • Get family planning services, services at federally qualified health centers, sexually transmitted disease services, and emergency care from non-participating providers as stated in federal law.
  • Ask for an interpreter at no charge to you.
  • Use interpreters who are not your family members or friends.
  • Get your member materials in different formats including braille, large size print and audio format upon request.
  • File a complaint if your linguistic needs are not met.
  • Disenroll from KFHC.
  • Get minor consent services.

Your responsibilities are to:

  • Give your providers and KFHC correct information.
  • Understand your health problems and take part in making treatment goals with your provider.
  • Let your provider know you are a KFHC member. Make sure you take your member ID card to your appointments. Show it to the office staff when you check in.
  • Use the emergency room only when you have an emergency or when your provider tells you to do so. If you are unsure whether you have an emergency you can call our 24-Hour Advice Nurse at 661.632.1590 (Bakersfield) or 1.800.391.2000 (outside of Bakersfield).
  • Make and keep medical appointments. Let your provider know you need to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours before the appointment is scheduled.
  • Ask questions about any medical condition. Make sure you understand your provider's explanations and instructions.
  • Help KFHC keep accurate and current records by letting us know when you change your address or family status or have other healthcare coverage.
  • Notify KFHC as soon as possible if you receive a bill or have a complaint.
  • Treat KFHC personnel and healthcare providers respectfully and courteously.

Your right to make decisions about medical treatment

This section explains your right to make healthcare decisions and how you can plan now for your medical care if you are unable to speak for yourself in the future. A federal law requires us to give you this information. You have the right to be informed by KFHC of the California law regarding advance directives. You also have the right to receive information on any changes in that law as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days after the effective date of the change. We hope this information will help increase your control over your medical treatment.

Who decides about my treatment?

Your doctors will give you information and advice about treatment. You have the right to choose. You can say "Yes" to treatments you want. You can say "No" to any treatment that you don't want—even if the treatment might keep you alive longer.

How do I know what I want?

Your doctor must tell you about your medical condition and about what different treatments and pain management alternatives can do for you. Many treatments have side effects. Your doctor must offer you information about problems that medical treatment is likely to cause you. Often, more than one treatment might help you—and people have different ideas about which is best. Your doctor can tell you which treatments are available to you, but your doctor can't choose for you. That choice is yours to make and depends on what is important to you.

Can other people help with my decisions?

Yes. Patients often turn to their relatives and close friends for help in making medical decisions. These people can help you think about the choices you face. You can ask the doctors and nurses to talk with your relatives and friends. They can ask the doctors and nurses questions for you.

Can I choose a relative or friend to make healthcare decisions for me?

Yes. You may tell your doctor that you want someone else to make healthcare decisions for you. Ask the doctor to list that person as your healthcare surrogate in your medical record. The surrogate's control over your medical decisions is effective only during treatment of your current illness or injury or, if you are in a medical facility, until you leave the facility.

What if I become too sick to make my own healthcare decisions?

If you haven't named a surrogate, your doctor will ask your closest available relative or friend to help decide what is best for you. Most of the time that works. But sometimes everyone doesn't agree about what to do. That's why it is helpful if you can say in advance what you want to happen if you can't speak for yourself.

Do I have to wait until I am sick to express my wishes about healthcare?

No. In fact, it is better to choose before you get very sick or have to go into a hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare facility. You can use an Advance Health Care Directive to say who you want to speak for you and what kind of treatments you want. These documents are called advance because you prepare one before healthcare decisions need to be made. They are called directives because they state who will speak on your behalf and what should be done.

In California, the part of an advance directive you can use to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions is called a Power of Attorney for Health Care. The part where you can express what you want done is called an Individual Health Care Instruction.

Who can make an advance directive?

You can if you are 18 years or older and are capable of making your own medical decisions. You do not need a lawyer.

Who can I name as my agent?

You can choose an adult relative or any other person you trust to speak for you when medical decisions must be made.

When does my agent begin making my medical decisions?

Usually, a healthcare agent will make decisions only after you lose the ability to make them yourself. But, if you wish, you can state in the Power of Attorney for Health Care that you want the agent to begin making decisions immediately.

How does my agent know what I would want?

After you choose your agent, talk to that person about what you want. Sometimes treatment decisions are hard to make, and it truly helps if your agent knows what you want. You can also write your wishes down in your advance directive.

What if I don't want to name an agent?

You can still write your wishes in your advance directive, without naming an agent. You can say that you want to have your life continued as long as possible. Or you can say that you would not want treatment to continue your life. Also, you can express your wishes about the use of pain relief for any other type of medical treatment.

Even if you have not filled out a written Individual Health Care Instruction, you can discuss your wishes with your doctor and ask your doctor to list those wishes in your medical record. Or you can discuss your wishes with your family members or friends. But it will probably be easier to follow your wishes if you write them down.

What if I change my mind?

You can change or cancel your advance directive at any time as long as you can communicate your wishes. To change the person you want to make your healthcare decisions, you must sign a statement or tell the doctor in charge of your care.

What happens when someone else makes decisions about my treatment?

The same rules apply to anyone who makes healthcare decisions on your behalf—a healthcare agent, a surrogate whose name you gave to your doctor or a person appointed by a court to make decisions for you. All are required to follow your healthcare instructions, or if none, your general wishes about treatment, including stopping treatment. If your treatment wishes are not known, the surrogate must try to determine what is in your best interest. The people providing your healthcare must follow the decisions of your agent or surrogate unless a requested treatment would be bad medical practice or ineffective in helping you. If this causes disagreement that cannot be worked out, the provider must make a reasonable effort to find another healthcare provider to take over your treatment.

Will I still be treated if I don't make an advance directive?

Absolutely. You will still get medical treatment. We just want you to know that if you become too sick to make decisions, someone else will have to make them for you.

Remember that a Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you name an agent to make decisions for you. Your agent can make most medical decisions for you—not just those about life sustaining treatment – when you can't speak for yourself. You can also let your agent make decisions earlier, if you wish.

You can create an individual healthcare instruction by writing down your wishes about healthcare or by talking with your doctor and asking the doctor to record your wishes in your medical file. If you know when you would or would not want certain types of treatment, an Instruction provides a good way to make your wishes clear to your doctor and to anyone else who may be involved in deciding about treatment on your behalf.

These two types of advance healthcare directives may be used together or separately.

To implement Public Law 101-508, the California Consortium on Patient Self-Determination prepared this section in 1991; it was revised in 2000 by the California Department of Health Services, with input from members of the consortium and other interested parties, to reflect changes in state law.

How can I get more information about making an advance directive?

Ask your doctor, nurse, social worker or healthcare provider to get more information for you. You can have a lawyer write an advance directive for you or you can complete an advance directive by filling in the blanks on a form.