Your primary care physician is your go-to for all your health care needs. If you have an HMO insurance plan, you'll need your primary not just for routine checkups but also in-depth evaluations and referrals to specialists.
Although we at VIVAA would love for everyone looking for a primary care physician in Bellevue Wa to come in and see us, we know that you may live further away and need help finding a physician in your area. Because your doctor plays such a vital role in your well-being, it's important to go through a dedicated process and choose a primary care physician you can trust.
Whether you've recently moved, changed insurance providers or have another reason for changing your primary, here are five major points consider when finding a new doctor.
1. Check Your Network
The first step when looking for a new doctor is to check with your current health insurance provider. You have to choose a doctor who is in your insurance network and will accept your coverage. Depending on the type of insurance plan you have, finding the right in-network primary care physician is even more important because they're your connection to specialists.
In-network doctors accept your insurance and are more affordable than out-of-network physicians. It may take longer to find an appointment with an in-network doctor, but traditionally, you only have to pay your copay for a visit rather than covering an appointment entirely out-of-pocket.
Once you've found a doctor that interests you, call their office to confirm they accept your insurance. Be sure you ask direct questions like, "Do you accept this plan from this provider?" Sometimes, doctors leave an insurance network but websites aren't updated, so it's always a good idea to get clarification before you make any appointments.
2. Ask Around
The internet may be where we get most of our information nowadays, but word of mouth still carries a lot of value. Ask your friends and family about their primaries and get some recommendations. If your health insurance is employer-sponsored, ask your co-workers about their primary care physicians. Since most of you probably have the same health insurance plan, their doctors are likely to be in the same network.
While you're getting recommendations from people, ask additional questions about their doctors regarding wait times, costs, office staff and what they like and dislike about them.
3. Research and Choose the Right Type of PCP
There are multiple types of doctors who can be classified as primary care physicians. Understanding the differences between them will help you make the most informed choice when it comes to your unique health care.
A doctor who runs a general practice typically treats patients of all ages. General practice doctors are similar to family doctors in that they treat a wide range of patients and conditions, but they differ in the fact that they aren't specialized in family care.
General practice doctors focus more on the treatment of acute conditions versus continued care throughout a patient's life. General doctors are certified by the American Board of General Practice.
If you have children or would like to start a family in the future, a family doctor is a good choice for a primary care physician. Family doctors have completed their medical degrees and residency while also specializing in family-related fields like pediatrics, gynecology and geriatrics.
A family doctor treats many patients throughout the course of their lives. Family care doctors are skilled in preventative medicine as well as the treatment of acute illness and injuries, so they may be able to provide a broader scope of health care without the need to refer you to a specialist.
In addition to their specialized knowledge, family doctors must also be accredited by the American Board of Family Medicine. In order to be certified, a doctor must complete 150 hours of continued education every three years to ensure their family medicine knowledge is current.
4. Do a Background Check
Once you've found a few primary care physicians you're interested in, it's time to hop online and do some investigation. Reading about their practice and some reviews is a good start, but it's also valuable to go more in depth. Sites like https://www.healthgrades.com/group-directory/wa-washington/bellevue/vivaa-oyyqy4r allow you to search for doctors by specialty and location. Doctors have reviews from clients you can read as well as reports on their education, affiliated hospitals and medical organizations, insurance plans, office locations and any malpractice or board actions.
5. Consider Location
A doctor's office distance from your home will have an impact on your experience. You might not mind having to drive an hour once or a year for a routine physical, but if you have any health conditions that require more frequent appointments, long commutes may be draining and costly. For example: If you live in certain parts of Metro Seattle you may find our Bellevue office is more convenience to get to than our Issaquah office.
Also consider how you would handle more urgent health care. If you came down with a virus, for example, would you still want to have a long commute to see your primary? Are there any in-network doctors closer to home you could go to if yours was too far away for the type of care you needed?
Finding the Right Doctor for You
The best way to find a good doctor is to assess your needs and keep them in mind while you research. Your health insurance will largely influence the doctors you have access to, so make sure that you speak with your provider and fully understand all of your options and the costs associated with medical care under your plan.
By researching doctors in your location and understanding both your needs and preferences, you'll be able to make a more informed decision and find a primary care physician that you can rely on.