How to Find Dr. Right
Your relationship with your health care provider is one of the most important in your
life. You should be able to trust your health care provider with your most private
health issues or problems and should feel certain he or she is your partner.
You may need to choose a new health care provider if your current one stops participating
in your health insurance plan or no longer satisfies your particular needs.
Steps to take
The following suggestions can help you find a new health care provider who's right
Look for a health care provider when you're healthy. When ill or in pain, you won't have the time or energy to carefully gather information
about the qualifications or qualities of a new health care provider.
Gather names from several sources. Begin by asking your employer or health insurance representative for a list of primary
care health care providers in your plan. In most cases, your out-of-pocket expenses
will be less if you choose a participating health care provider. Follow up by asking
coworkers, friends, or relatives if they would recommend or advise against any of
the health care providers on the list.
Check each health care provider's credentials. Call your local state medical or osteopathic board. It gives basic professional information
on nearly every licensed medical or osteopathic health care provider in your state.
The listing includes the medical school the health care provider attended and any
Make an appointment. Before you decide on a health care provider, make an appointment with one who looks
promising. This meeting will help you decide whether you're comfortable with the health
care provider, the support staff, and the facilities. Keep in mind that, as a new
patient, it may take you longer to get in to see the health care provider. Insurance
won't pay for a health care provider's visit that's not for a checkup or for a health
problem. Schedule the visit with the goal of establishing care.
What to ask
During the visit, ask the following questions:
How can I reach you in an emergency?
Is it always necessary to make an appointment? Will you or a nurse answer routine
questions over the phone?
Who gives care for your patients in your absence?
Has a medical specialty board certified you? If so, in what specialty area?
At what hospitals do you have privileges? (Make sure the hospital is covered by your
Board certification indicates that health care providers are highly trained in the
specialty they practice. They've had 3 or more years of training beyond medical school,
practiced that specialty for a specified number of years, and passed an examination.
Health care providers must attend continuing medical education programs throughout
their careers to remain certified.
Rate your visit
Afterward, assess your visit. After following the steps above, ask yourself: Did the
health care provider and the office staff treat me courteously? Were all of my questions
answered? Did I feel rushed or dismissed? Do I agree with the health care provider's
office policies and wellness philosophy?
If not satisfied, check with your insurer to see if you can visit another health care
provider without paying the full cost of the visit.
Give the health care provider a try. Just as every health care provider has a different
style, every patient has different needs. It’s important to have a trial period with
your potential health care provider to make sure you're comfortable, have clear lines
of communication, and receive excellent care.
If you're not happy with the health care provider, restart your search.