An online course offers adults 50 and older lessons on how to get all the services they need from their managed care plans.

The design of managed care programs requires people to take an active role in coordinating their health care. That's a change for some older Americans whose previous health plans allowed them to be more passive and simply listen to their doctor's instructions, according to AARP. The senior group's online seminar, "How to Get the Most from Your Managed Care Plan," instructs managed care participants on how to take responsibility for their health care, be aware of their medical histories and prepare for doctor visits.

The seminar describes different types of plans, offers suggestions on what to look for in a primary care doctor and provides resources for more in-depth information.

It also covers more complex issues such as how to maximize benefits for mental health and substance abuse, and how to get necessary services for the seriously ill -- a lesson that includes a discussion about living wills and health care powers of attorney.

AARP's online course "How to Get the Most from Your Managed Care Plan" is available at http://aarp.fathom.com/course/core.jhtml

-- Diane Knich

AARP's online course is designed to help consumers navigate the sometimes confusing world of managed care.