One of the first steps towards managing your healthcare is choosing your primary care physician. This doctor will be who you visit for the bulk of your medical needs which include wellness visits, routine screenings, and non-emergency illnesses like an earache or a sore throat. They will also be the person you direct to for any health questions or concerns you may have. You want to make sure that you are choosing the right doctor as these relationships can be short-lived due to circumstances, or they can last decades. Regardless of the time span, it is an important relationship to have, and you want to make sure you choose someone who you feel comfortable having some of these honest conversations with, along with someone who has expertise in the specific areas that will meet your health needs. Take a look at these tips to choosing the right primary doctor.
Find The Doctors That Are “In-Network”
You will find that many health plans will have discounted rates with specific doctors and hospitals in your area. So, you would end up paying less if you visit these doctors who insurance companies refer to as “in-network” doctors. By choosing an “in-network” doctor, you will protect yourself from dealing with any surprise “out-of-network” charge or form having to pay in full out of your pocket due to choosing someone that your insurance plan does not accept. You can go online to the website of your provider and find a list of all the “in-network” doctors and hospitals. You can also call the customer service number and speak with a representative.
Make Sure Their Expertise Meets Your Needs
Once you have determined your list of the “in-network” doctors, you can begin narrowing it down further. There are a number of different types of doctors that can identify as a primary care doctor. Typically, you will have Family Practice, Internal Medicine, or General Practice. Family practice doctors can treat people of all ages, and they are usually generalists who can treat a number of different conditions. They can also treat the kind of issues you would see a specialist for like any sports injuries or some women’s health needs. Internal medicine doctors usually treat adults, and they specialize in chronic conditions. General practice physicians are similar to family practice doctors as they are able to treat people of any age or gender. Here, you may also encounter osteopaths who practice a kind of alternative medicine that has a special focus on the musculoskeletal system. You can distinguish these doctors by the “D.O” after their name rather than the usual “M.D.”
Visit The Doctor
After narrowing your list down to a few physicians, the best thing you can do is go for an office visit and have a face-to-face meeting with the potential doctor. You want to make sure that you can feel comfortable in the office with not only the physician but also the nurses. As mentioned earlier, this doctor will be someone who you have many honest conversations with, so you want to make sure you find someone you feel you can trust. During these visits, be sure to discuss any current medications you are on and your medical history. Doing so will allow you two be on the same page regarding managing any chronic conditions. You will also want to consider any environmental factors. So, take note of the demeanor of those who answer the phone—are they friendly and efficient? You also want to be aware of the atmosphere of the office as a whole. Do you have to wait too long after you arrive for your appointment? These are the questions you want to ask when you are making your decision.
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