Health insurance often changes with the new year and many patients find themselves searching for a new doctor. Here are some tips for making your first visit a success.
1- Come in for a reason. While it may seem courteous to want to meet your new doctor before you are ill or in need, these “getting to know you visits” aren’t always popular with doctors. Insurance companies require a diagnosis to bill and “establishing care” doesn’t count. If you want to become known by your doctor, schedule a visit for an annual wellness visit.
2- Don't come with too many reasons. There can be a lot of paperwork during the first viait and a lot of data to be entered. If you have more than 2 issues to address, ask for a longer appointment or be willing to come back for an additional visit.
3- Write out your health history in advance. Ask if the office has forms. Take the time to gather important data such as immunization history and dates of important screening tests such as colon cancer screens and mammograms. It really helps.
4- Bring a complete list of medications you are taking or better yet, bring the bottles themselves.
5- Know your insurance coverage. There are a lot of changes each year and it is impossible for office staff to keep up. They may have hundreds of different insurance plans to deal with, you have one. Know what you need to pay each visit and be prepared to pay it when you arrive.
6- If you doctor offers the ability to communicate online, take advantage of it. I love it when patients who were unclear about my instructions gave me the chance to clarify later.
7- Find out about office policies for someday visits and after hours calls. If your health plan requires you to use certain hospital facilities or urgent care centers it pays to know this in advance.
8- If you are unhappy, say something! If you have an unpleasant experience, let the doctor know before deciding to switch providers. Some of my greatest improvements were patient suggested. If you receive exceptional service share that too. Even doctors need an occasional “good job!”
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