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Factors in Choosing a Doctor

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Factors in Choosing a Doctor

Choosing a doctor is an important task; however, it can also be a difficult one. This is especially true if you have moved and are now living in a new location.
While asking for recommendations from friends, neighbors and coworkers is one way to approach the matter, it should be kept in mind that there are several factors that should be taken into consideration regarding the best choice of a doctor for you.

Your insurance can be one of these factors and one that should be weighed heavily. In some cases your insurance could place restrictions on your choice of physician. You may also discover there are financial incentives related to selecting doctors who are affiliated with your insurance plan. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to make sure you check your insurance coverage terms to discover how much your plan will cover for the doctor you are considering. In the event the doctor you select does not participate in your insurance health plan, you will need to determine how much money you will need to pay in regards to out of pocket visits.

You will also need to give some thought to the type of doctor you need. For example, do you require a primary health care provider; one that will manage your overall care and then make referrals to specialists when necessary? Or do you believe you need a particular specialist?

It can be a good idea to check and make sure that the doctor you are considering is board certified in the area in which they practice. This means they have completed residency training that is specific to that field. They must have also passed a competency examination in that field as well. For primary care providers, the doctor must be board certified in areas such as family medicine.

You should also take the time to find out whether the doctor you are considering is a current state license. You can do this by checking with your state’s medical licensure board. This can also help to provide information regarding whether there are any disciplinary action or criminal charges filed against the physician you are considering.

Other questions you should consider when selecting a doctor include the following:

Is the location of the doctor’s practice convenient to your home and/or work? Is ample parking provided?

Which hospitals does the doctor routinely use? Are you comfortable with those choices?

How long is the wait list for an appointment? What about if you have an emergency? Is it possible for you to be seen on that same need if the need arises?

What about lab work? Is it performed in the doctor’s office or at another location?

How promptly are calls returned if you have a question?

Is the office staff courteous and friendly?

What about when the doctor is away? Who covers for him/her?

Does the office process insurance claims or must you pay up-front and then file the claims on your own?

Don’t be reluctant to schedule an appointment in which you can speak to the doctor regarding any concerns or questions you may have before you schedule a ‘real’ appointment. This gives you an opportunity to make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor and get any questions you may have answered. Even though you may need to make a co-payment this fee is small compared to the mistake of selecting the wrong doctor.

Taking the time to research possible doctors before making a selection can help to reduce problems later on. Regardless of whether you are choosing a family doctor or a specialist, don’t forget to make your choice carefully.