The health insurance plan you choose will determine the doctors, nurses, office staff, and other health care professionals you can see. Insurance plans often require that you find doctors and family practitioners that are in their plan network. Here’s how to choose a Primary Care Physician and what to take into consideration.
What to Consider
There are several times throughout your life when you’ll need to choose a doctor or find a new family practice. You could be leaving your parent’s insurance, getting insurance through a new job, starting a family, or nearing retirement age. Maybe your doctor or pediatrician is getting ready to retire or leave your health plan network.
Your age will go a long way to helping you choose a doctor. There are several types of doctors, so think about what you need at this point in your life. Obviously, all doctors are board-certified, will look at your medical history, your current health, and provide preventive care for all ages.
But you may want to consider a specialist, too. Internists, OB-GYN, and geriatricians are a few examples of doctors that concentrate on one area of care. Doctors will usually list their specialties, so this will help narrow down your choices. But what else should you consider?
Are they in-network?
Receiving the best health care possible shouldn’t be totally dependent on costs, but most plans require a doctor in their network of physicians. You may have heard great things about a particular internal medicine doctor or pediatrician, but if they’re out of network, you could be out of luck.
If you have chronic conditions that require more attention, will your health care professional be able to see you as often as you need? Do they split their time between a few different offices? Do they offer evening hours or work on the weekends? They won’t be in the office 24-7 but check about “on-call” availability.
Just like with real estate, location is everything. Will you need to travel 45 minutes in traffic to reach your primary care provider, or are they allocated near public transit? Do they offer telemedicine access if you live in a more rural area? How close are they located to other services, such as a pharmacy or where procedures take place?
You can tell a lot about a practice (and many other businesses, for that matter) by the office environment. Are the waiting rooms clean and organized, is it easy to schedule an appointment, are you greeted warmly on the phone or in-person? The office environment can go a long way to putting you at ease.
This is important – you want to feel comfortable with your primary care physician. If you don’t need to see the doctor as much, this may not be important. But as you age, need more care, or have difficult health issues, you want to make sure you feel at ease. Ask for an initial consultation before deciding on any doctor to make sure it’s the right “fit.”
It is a fact of life after all: The older we get, the more care we’ll need. Finding doctors that accept your health care plan is the first step to ensuring you get the attention you need when you need it. This is especially important as you near retirement, and you’re ready to transition from your employer’s health plan to Medicare.
Work with Medicare Insurance experts
Finding a new primary care physician can be a stressful process, and trying to navigate Medicare components on your own can only exacerbate the situation. As you near retirement age or suddenly find yourself needing a new Medicare plan, reach out to Guided Medicare. We’re here to help answer you questions and guide you to the plan that’s right for you.