6 free health care sites and apps

@Money September 26, 2011: 5:51 AM ET
Free health care help

(MONEY Magazine) -- Looking to the Internet or your smartphone to help manage your family's health care? The experience may leave you reaching for aspirin.

There are now a head-spinning 10,000-plus medical-related apps, and it's not always easy to tell the good from the bad, says Dr. Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association.

Send The Help Desk your health care cost questions.

Meanwhile, Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) recent decision to shut down its electronic health records system, Google Health, owing to inadequate consumer interest, has left users stranded. So MONEY quizzed experts and sorted through the latest tools to zero in on the six most useful (all free).

Websites

SIMPLEE

simplee.com

This new expense tracker -- co-founded by a former Shopping.com executive -- keeps all your claims and billing information in one place and lets you see at a glance how much money is left in your flexible spending account. Plus, it has good (VeriSign Trusted) security.

HOSPITAL COMPARE

hospitalcompare.hhs.gov

Run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this recently updated site lets you search hospitals by several measures.

Health insurance costs to rise again next year

They include rates of infection for outpatient procedures and readmission rates for various ailments, both of which can hit patients right in the wallet.

MICROSOFT HEALTHVAULT

healthvault.com

Post-Google Health, experts say that this is the best free electronic health record system around, in part because of its simple interface. Store information from your mother's drugs to your test results in one quickly accessible place. You can even upload medical images.

Apps

ZOCDOC

iPhone and Android

Fall ill while traveling? Use this new app, available in 10 large metro areas so far. Enter a specialty, reason for visit, and insurer. ZocDoc will turn up the nearest covered providers with patient reviews and available appointments. Or use it to book your current doc after hours.

iTRIAGE

iPhone and Android

iTriage -- which recently added info on 1,000 drugs from the reliable American Society of Health-System Pharmacists -- is a one-stop reference for what may be ailing you, what kind of doctor specializes in the problem, typical treatments, and possible drug and food interactions.

NIKE TRAINING CLUB

iPhone

Plenty of apps let you skip a pricey personal trainer, but Nike's stands out for its comprehensiveness and ease of use. Choose type of exercise, fitness level, and duration; you get workouts that require minimal equipment, complete with video and audio instruction from top trainers.  To top of page

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