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Four Steps To Find a New Primary Care Doctor

Whether you moved recently or your former doctor changed practices, you may be searching for a new general practitioner. This process might seem daunting, but you already have a great resource at your fingertips – your insurance agent and provider! Here, we outline four steps to help you find the right professional for your healthcare needs. 

Start by speaking with your insurance.

Your provider often negotiates the best rate with specific physicians in your area. This is referred to as “in-network” care. If you do not know where to begin, the best initial step is to call your insurance agent. Many times, he or she will be able to refer you to a list of providers based on criteria such as location, hours of operation, specialties, and more. In-network providers will be more cost-effective for you, but your provider can also provide you with names of doctors who are outside your network. If you would like to see these practitioners, you would most likely need to pay out-of-pocket and pay a higher price. 

Next, ask friends and colleagues for referrals. 

The best way to ensure you find a doctor who fits your medical needs and personality preferences is by speaking to those you know and trust. If you receive insurance from your employer, ask your co-workers which doctors they have seen locally. Ask them about the doctor’s bedside manner, attention to detail, and willingness to listen. If you are retired, self-employed, or receive insurance from another source, talk to friends and family members. They may even be able to refer you to other quality practitioners within your network that you may not have considered. 

Contact a few offices. 

After speaking with your insurance agent and friends, create a shortlist of your top two to four choices. Contact each doctor’s office to confirm they are still within your network, charge a visit fee that is within your budget, accepting new patients, and offer a free or low-cost consultation visit. You are the best advocate for your own personal health, so do not be afraid to ask questions. During the consultation, consider asking the doctor if they have experience or specialize in any pre-existing medical conditions you have, how far in advance do their schedules fill up, how long does an appointment typically take, and if you will only see them or others in their practice.

Make your choice.

Once you are able to select the best doctor for your needs and personality, you can move forward by scheduling your first formal appointment. Your insurance provider can walk you through all the services that will be covered, which can help you know what to expect in advance of your visit. The first visit is a great time to determine if the provider has delivered on the things that were discussed in your consultation, and you can also have a better understanding of his or her bedside manner. If this doctor is a great fit after your first appointment, congratulations! If not, know that you can always reach back out to your insurance agent for further support in locating a new provider.