How to Choose a Doctor
Everyone needs a doctor from time to time, but choosing the right doctor for your needs can be difficult. There are a few things to consider before making your choice.
The first place to start in choosing the right doctor is to check with your insurance company or employer. Insurance companies usually require participants to choose a primary care physician (PCP) within their network.
If there are no limitations on which doctor you are able to see, you can easily look through the local newspaper or phone book for your area. You will want to choose a family physician or an internist who provides general care for common ailments. You may also want to choose a doctor who can see both you and your children.
There are also many specialty doctors for specific conditions, such as an obstetrician/gynecologist for women, a doctor who specializes in geriatrics for older adults, or a pediatrician who specializes in small children. These are all considered PCPs.
Another helpful tip in choosing a doctor is to get referrals from friends and family. Almost everyone has a doctor and will be able to share experiences. You can also check with the medical society in your county, which will have a list of physicians in your area. Your local hospitals could help too.
Once you’ve chosen some possible doctors you feel will meet your needs, you should call them to see if they are accepting new patients and if they will accept your insurance.
Ideally, it would be good for you to meet the physician and go over your medical history, and then have a complete physical examination performed. However, please be cautious in that many insurance companies do not pay for an informal visit with a doctor.
Before you make the appointment, check with the medical board in your state to ensure that the doctor you’ve chosen has a current medical license. You will also be able to find out if the doctor has received any disciplinary action against his or her license.
There are a few other considerations when choosing a doctor too:
• Location. You should make sure the doctor’s office is conveniently located and easily accessible.
• Association. You should make sure that this doctor is associated with
a hospital that you are comfortable with should the need arise.
• Additional tests. How far will you have to travel if x-rays or laboratory work is needed?
• Time. Many doctors’ offices are very busy, so first check how long it will take
to get an appointment with this doctor.
One last thing to remember is that most doctors offices process insurance claims for you as a convenience. However, there are some who require an upfront payment for services rendered, and it is up to you to file the claim with the insurance company. If you do not want the hassle of filing your own claims, make sure the doctor you choose will process them for you.