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Consumer How To Choose Guide 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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12 The Daily Citizen ◆ HOW TO CHOOSE GUIDE 2015 H OW TO Among the most crucial steps in ensuring you lead the healthiest lifestyle possible is to select an appropriate, quali- fied doctor. The key is to find a physi- cian willing to enter into a cooperative relationship intended to closely monitor your health and offer innova- tive solutions to issues as they arise. Several critical elements should be taken into considera- tion anytime you begin search- ing for a new physician. Insurance It may be the case that your choice of doctors will be restricted by your health insur- ance carrier. It is not uncom- mon for insurers to maintain contracts with particular groups or professional prac- tices, and you will not be able to venture outside the insurer's provider network without pay- ing extra. The role of a primary care doctor is to see to your med- ical needs in a global sense, as well as to provide appropriate referrals whenever you require the expertise of a specialist. The physicians comprising an insurer's primary care net- work will have existing arrangements with the carrier, and using doctors outside the group can subject you to out- of-pocket expenses for amounts not covered by your policy. There are, however, some insurance carriers that do not impose restrictions on physi- cian choice. If you have this type of coverage, you only need look to the local newspa- per or online advertisements in order to identify a number of experienced prospects. Meeting your needs It is usually wise to select a general practitioner to serve as a primary care doctor. This could be a member of a family practice or an internal medi- cine doctor. There are some circum- stances, however, when it makes sense to select a doctor practicing within a particular specialty. For instance, a woman may feel most comfortable with a primary care physician who is an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). Parents may pre- fer to have their children cared for by a pediatrician. Senior citizens may even decide to have a geriatric specialist serve as their primary care doctor. Whichever type of doctor you choose, once you contact their office and determine whether they will accept you as a patient, it is a wise to check with your insurance company and make sure that your visits to this doctor will be covered. Paying for medical care out of your own pocket can be a very expensive proposition. Ask for referrals Perhaps the best way to find a new doctor, however, is through referrals from friends, family and other trusted sources. Those who have had positive experiences with their health care providers are gen- erally eager to share their experiences. Another useful source of physician referrals may be the local chapter of the American Medical Association or other professional physicians' organ- izations in your area. Before you make your final decision, be sure to check with the state medical board to make sure the physician you have selected has a current license to practice. The licens- ing body will also be able to tell you whether the physician you have chosen is facing any pending disciplinary actions or complaints. Not every physician accepts new patients. Once you have narrowed your list of likely candidates, contact their offices to make sure that they are growing their practice by adding patients, and that they accept the type of insurance you carry. Under ideal circumstances, the very first visit you make to your new doctor will involve a routine physical examination during which your new doctor will take a detailed patient his- tory. It is sometimes the case, however, that insurance carri- ers decline payment for routine physical exams. Convenience A significant factor in choosing a doctor is conven- ience. You will want to make sure his or her office is easily accessible from either your home or your workplace. You should ensure that the physician you have chosen has admitting privileges at a hospi- tal where you would feel com- fortable in the event you need more substantial treatment. You should ask whether your chosen physician is able to perform diagnostic tests and procedures in his or her own office, or if you will instead have to visit a separate facility when you need such services. Finally, verify how long it typically takes to book an appointment. Not every one of your medical needs will require a same-day office visit, but when an emergency arises, you will want to know your new doctor has the ability to meet your needs. CHOOSE A PHYSICIAN WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW k j The physicians comprising an insurer's primary care network will have existing arrangements with the carrier, and using doctors out- side the group can subject you to more out-of-pocket expenses. Select a general practitioner to serve as a primary care doctor. k j Check with the state medical board to make sure the physician you have selected has a current license to practice. Make sure your physician's office is easily accessible from your home or your workplace.

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