You’ve navigated the Health Exchange, found a reasonably priced health plan that seems to deliver all of the healthcare services you and your family needs. Now what? You must select a doctor. But choosing the right doctor can be just as stressful as selecting the right health insurance coverage. Here is a list of questions that can help you make an informed decision about the right doctor for your family’s needs:
Identify your family’s medical needs and determine the reasons that you might need to see a doctor? For instance, do you (or a family member) have a chronic condition that needs on-going monitoring by a specific type of doctor? Or do you need the kind of doctor who sees you for colds, allergies and well patient visits like check-ups and immunizations?
What kind of doctor are you looking for?
Are you looking for a physician who can treat most of your family’s needs? There are few types of primary care doctors from which to choose:
a. Family Practitioner
c. Pediatrician or
d. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Ask for help:
Now that you’ve determined the type of doctor that you need, you may want to ask friends, family and even co-workers for recommendations. It’s often helpful to ask questions like:
· Do you know a good doctor?
· Would you recommend your doctor?
· What do you like about your doctor?
· How long does it take to get an appointment? If you need to, can you usually see your doctor right away—on the same day if you get sick?
It’s time to do some research!
Consider questions like:
· Does the doctor take your insurance?
· Does the doctor speak another language?
· Does gender matter?
· Age of the physician?
· Does experience matter?
· Is the physician Board Certified in his specialty?
· Have there been any complaints filed with the State Medical Board?
After you’ve selected 2 or 3 choices, you may want to call the offices on your list. Ask questions like:
· (You want to make sure that it will be easy for you to get there.)
· If the doctor is part of a group, you may want to find out who the other doctors are and their specialties.
· If the doctor is not part of a group practice, you want to make sure that the doctor has a plan when he or she is not there.
· You want to find out if you will need to go to another location for tests or if most lab tests are done in the doctor’s office.
When looking for a doctor for your family, there is one question you mustn’t overlook: Will you like this doctor? Above everything, it is most important that you find a doctor with whom you and your family feel comfortable. It’s okay to schedule a “get-to-know-you” appointment. Often doctors will make time for information sessions with prospective patients. Healthcare administration is not only trying to become more efficient, but they are finding the most important places to focus their efforts. Not only will you learn a lot about your doctor, but also he or she can learn about you before you come seeking care. After all, both you and your doctor really are hoping to make this a long-term relationship.