Need a new direct primary care doctor? Here's what to do
The doctor-patient relationship is super important. Whether you only see your doctor for regularly-scheduled check-ups or you are working to manage a chronic condition, partnering with a doctor your trust is critical. So what happens when you need a new primary care doctor?
Maybe your current doctor is changing locations or a change in health insurance plans means you need to find someone new. Finding a new, trusted doctor can be a daunting task. We can help! Selecting a good match is important for managing your healthcare. Think of your primary care doctor as “home base.” This is the person you see for regular check-ups, routine screenings, and non-emergency health issues. It’s also the person to whom you should feel comfortable expressing health concerns. Your primary care doctor may also be the person you visit first when you need to be referred to a specialist.
It’s an important relationship. Choosing a new primary care doctor means finding someone you feel comfortable talking to. It should be someone with whom you can be honest. Your primary care doctor should also be an expert in any areas required to meet your medical needs.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you identify a new primary care doctor if and when the need arises.
Are they in-network?
Depending on your health insurance plan, you’ll need to find an in-network physician. Since most health plans negotiate discounted rates with various hospitals and doctors, you spend less out of your own pocket for visiting those doctors and health centers. Working with an in-network doctor means you won’t have to worry about surprise medical bills or have to pay high rates out of pocket.
Contact your health plan or visit the plan’s website to identify a list of in-network doctors and providers. Most insurance companies offer doctor or provider directories online. If you have trouble locating this on the internet, check the back of your member ID card as most will have a contact number you can use.
Match with a new primary care doctor that meets your specific needs
With your list of in-network doctors handy, you’ll want to begin identifying those that have the expertise you require. Primary care physicians typically fall into one of several different categories: internal medicine, family practice, or general practice. If you have children, you may also need to consider pediatricians, who focus on children.
What’s the difference between these different types of physicians? Glad you asked!
Internal Medicine – These physicians work with adults and focus on preventing, diagnosing, and managing chronic conditions and diseases.
Family Practice – These physicians work with patients of all ages – from newborns to children to adults – and can treat a wide range of medical issues. They can usually also treat illnesses you might usually need to see a specialist for, including gynecological needs and sports injuries.
General Practice – These physicians are similar to family practice physicians as they treat a wide range of patients. Many Osteopathic Doctors work within the general practice category. Osteopathic Doctors focus on the musculoskeletal system and are referenced with a D.O. after their name (rather than “M.D.”).
Consider where you will be most comfortable
This can mean a lot of different things. For one, consider location. Once you have a list of in-network doctors, think about how far each is from your home. Will it be a long commute to see them? Also, think about their office hours and what will work best for your schedule. Do you need someone who has some weekend availability? Can you only make it to the doctor after business hours during the week? Take all of these factors into consideration when choosing your next primary care doctor.
Consider how you would like to communicate with your new primary care doctor. If you prefer to meet with your doctor in their office, this one is easy. However, if you would like a doctor that is fluent in a language other than English, be sure your list includes doctors that match this need. Perhaps you prefer to work with a doctor who communicates virtually, whether by video conference, email, or text. Many doctors are now well-versed in providing healthcare in a virtual way, so be sure to check that the doctor you choose can accommodate your needs.
Finally, consider getting a referral from a family member or a friend. You may also be more comfortable getting a recommendation from another healthcare provider with whom you work, whether it’s your dentist, your therapist, or someone else.
How about getting free primary care?
Yep, you read that correctly. If you’re in the market for a new doctor, consider signing up for one of Decent’s health plans. All of our plans offer free primary care, so you pay $0 out of pocket to see/speak/visit with your doctor. Every time. That means you enjoy same-day, half-hour long appointments and 24/7 direct telephone access to your doctor...and it’s all 100% included in your monthly premium.
With Decent, you can customize your care to fit your needs. All of Decent's plans come with the option of unlimited, free in-person primary care, or unlimited free virtual primary care. Get your free quote today to get started.