Finding a physician is a daunting task that most people avoid until an emergency. We do NOT recommend this strategy! The importance of routine check ups cannot be overstated, especially if your family has a history of any cancers or diseases. Before you go about finding a physician haphazardly on Google however, take the following steps:
1. Do an inventory of your risk factors.
Now you might be thinking “Wait a minute. Aren’t my risk factors questions to ask a physician? I don’t know what my risk factors are!” And the answer is, yes and no. You’re not a human MRI machine, but we’re betting that you know some of your health risks. For instance, you might be obese or overweight, and if you are, you’re probably very aware of it thanks to the media, the internet, etc. You’re not alone. Since 1988, the average American male has gained close to 18 lbs, and the average female 15! If you’re overweight, you’re at risk for things like heart disease, poor circulation, and diabetes. Or maybe you’ve been struggling with insomnia your whole life, and have some questions to ask a neurologist. Maybe your big problem is allergies. Whatever chronic issues you’ve been dealing with, finding a physician that fits your needs will be a lot easier if you have an idea of these things.
2. Call as many people as you need to in order to understand your health insurance.
Last summer, I just assumed a doctor was in-network because they were on an old PDF list for my insurance company. A strong believer in preventative medicine, I had a physical done and thought nothing more of it. That was, until I got a bill explaining that the insurance had only covered 20% of the cost because the doctor had used “upgraded materials!” I paid the price for my hubris out of pocket, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Do thorough research into your health insurance provisions and make sure you have a good grasp on what’s covered and what isn’t.
3. If gender is a factor, don’t be shy about that.
It’s perfectly understandable to want a doctor who is the same gender as you. And sure, finding a physician might be slightly harder if this is your preference, as you’re cutting out 50% of the population, but you know what? If a same-gender doctor is what you want, then the extra time it takes to find one is worth it.
4. Consider hours of operation and location.
This can be an easy thing to overlook especially if you have a car, but we generally suggest that you pick a doctor within walking distance or at least within reasonable public transport of your home. After all, your car could break down, or there could be an emergency that requires an immediate consultation. At the very least, see if an appointment is something you could feasibly squeeze into a lunch hour including the transportation logistics. That way, you’ll be less tempted to put appointments off for “cutting into your day.”
We realize this is a lot of information all at once. But we have faith that if you follow these steps, finding a physician will be a piece of cake.