Learn How to Choose a Primary Care Physician Who Is Right for You
The information provided on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care professional.
One of the most important health related decisions that U.S. residents have to make is who they see as their primary care physician. Many insurance plans require U.S. residents to have a primary care physician in order to receive any coverage. Selecting a primary care physician is not a decision that should be made lightly. U.S. residents need to pick someone that they are comfortable seeing, and that they can rely upon.
Residents have a number of different choices to pick from in order to find a primary care physician. This is both good and bad. It is good that residents have so many options, but it also makes the process initially overwhelming. Unlike other services, patients looking for a primary care physician should not simply look up general reviews and pick someone based on that. Every patient has his or her own unique needs to take into consideration. There are a few different areas that patients can use to help narrow their search.
Learn Why a Primary Care Physician is Important
Some patients are nonchalant about finding a primary care physician because they do not think it is important. However, many medical experts agree that having a strong relationship with a primary care physician is very important for overall health. Patients must feel safe and comfortable with their primary care physician, otherwise they are unlikely to visit them in the first place. Even if they do make an appointment, patients that are uncomfortable with their doctor are more likely to withhold important information, which may affect their diagnosis.
Learn About Insurance Compatibility
One of the easiest ways to narrow down a search for primary care physicians is to search based on insurance plans. Some doctors may exclude specific insurance plans, so patients should completely avoid these doctors during their search. Patients can call their insurance company to request a list of all the local doctors in the state that accept their insurance plan.
Patients that do not have insurance will have to pay for their medical costs out of pocket. In these situations, patients should try to find a doctor that is within their price range. These patients should also confirm that the physician is comfortable seeing patients without insurance coverage.
Learn the Signs of a Good Primary Care Physician
When patients are searching for a primary care physician, they are strongly encouraged to speak with the doctor directly. There are a couple of different things that patients can look for during their initial conversation with the doctor. It is important for doctors and patients to feel comfortable with one another, and to treat each other with respect. A good primary care physician will patiently listen and answer any questions that his or her patient asks.
It is also important for doctors to explain things in a way that patients can understand. Some primary care physicians are very good at their job, but may not be able to clearly communicate what they are doing to their patients, or what is required of the patients. Given how precise medical instructions can be, patients may be putting themselves at risk if they return to a primary care physician that they have a difficult time understanding.
Questions to Ask the Primary Care Physician
There are a couple of general questions that patients should ask when they meet their potential primary care physician. One of the first questions that patients should ask is about office hours. Many patients feel much more comfortable selecting a primary care physician that works in an office that has evening or weekend hours. Patients may also want to ask whether their doctor is part of a group practice in the office. If so, you can inquire about the other doctors that work in the group.
Other important questions have to do with making an appointment. Patients should ask how long in advance they have to call to make an appointment. It is also important to ask if the physician has a specific cancellation policy. Another question that many patients ask is whether lab work or x-rays are done at the office, or if they will have to go someplace else for those procedures.
It is very important for patients with preexisting medical conditions to speak with their potential doctor about those conditions. Patients should try and prioritize doctors that have experience treating other patients with the same condition.
Learn About Red Flags to Avoid
When searching for a primary care physician, there are a couple of red flags that patients can keep an eye on. Patients should always check where their doctor received their medical certification. Doctors that are hesitant to reveal information about where they went to school or performed their residency training may be trying to hide something from the patient.
Another red flag patients can check for is whether or not the doctor has previously been involved in any malpractice claims, or has had any disciplinary actions. It is not uncommon for doctors to have one or two malpractice claims against them, especially if they have been practicing medicine for a long time.
Something else that patients can check for is whether the physician is affiliated with any pharmaceutical companies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it may mean the doctor is more inclined to prescribe medication that comes from that specific pharmaceutical company. Patients that do not want to feel constrained with their medication options may want to consider a primary care physician that is not affiliated with a specific pharmaceutical company.