The day you get sick is not the best time to try to find a doctor. But it happens to so many people. Because of the outrageous cost of health insurance and the difficulties navigating the system even if you have insurance, many people wait until they are sick before they attempt to find a doctor.
So what should you do if this happens to you? That, of course, depends on your situation, but some of this information should help you when you are in a pinch and need to find a doctor fast.
If You DO Have Health Insurance
Health insurance can be confusing. If you just haven’t had or taken the time to find a doctor that is covered by your insurance plan, it may be hard to find one the day you get sick. But it can be done. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way.
- Contact your insurance company or go to its website.
Your insurance card should have a customer service number somewhere on it that you can call to find out the details of your plan. You will need to know if you have an HMO, PPO, POS or some other type of plan. They are all different as far as what type of coverage is provided and the limitations for which doctors you can see.
- Get a list of providers in your area and find out what services are covered under your plan, as well as what your copay will be.
If you have an HMO, you may already be assigned a primary care provider (PCP). Most insurance companies will allow you to change your PCP as long as you change to another provider in their network. If you have any other type of plan, you may not have been assigned a PCP, but you should still be able to get a list of doctors that are in your plan’s network.
- Get recommendations from friends, family and coworkers.
If you know nothing about any of the doctors in your area, ask around. Get referrals from friends, family and coworkers in your area to see who they do and do not like. Ask questions and find out what they like or dislike about their doctors. This can go a long way in helping you find the right doctor for you.
You may also want to check out UCompare Healthcare, a site that helps you find doctors in your area.
- Once you have a list of doctors narrowed down, start making phone calls.
Just because a doctor is covered by your plan does not necessarily mean he or she is accepting new patients. You will need to call the office and ask if the doctor you have chosen is accepting new patients and if he or she has any availability for when you wish to be seen.
- Make your appointment.
Once you find a doctor, keep your appointment and get on the road to recovery. If you like the doctor you have seen, be sure to make regular appointments for physicals so you can stay healthy year-round. If you decide the doctor you have seen is not for you, go ahead and try to find a new one -- before you get sick again.