How to Change Health Care Providers

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Changing health care providers can be a traumatic event for many people. Consumer driven healthcare is a new concept that is being closely studied by healthcare providers and insurance companies. The journal Health Affairs reports little progress in the movement as traditional means of finding and using providers continues to control patient choice. Whether a new insurance policy is driving the change, a beloved physician is retiring or the current service is inadequate for your needs, there are steps you can take to minimize the negative effects associated with change.

Review the list of available healthcare providers that are covered by your insurance policy. While the choice may be limited, additional costs are typically associated with choosing providers outside of the preferred network. When in-network providers are unsuitable, try to negotiate with other doctors to decrease the additional cost burdens.

Ask friends, family members and acquaintances for referrals. Through personal recommendations, patients often can avoid unnecessary and uncomfortable transitions. The Center for Studying Healthcare Change reports that more than half of all Americans make their choices for healthcare providers based on recommendations from people they know.

Talk to your current healthcare provider for a recommendation. Explain your requirements and ask for a referral to a provider that more closely offers the kinds of services that you are looking for. Especially when a specialist is needed, a primary care physician can be a good source for referrals, since your doctor knows the kinds of issues you have and the quality of care you demand.

Make an appointment for a consultation with a new healthcare provider. Explain to the appointment setter that you will need time to talk to the doctor and that you are evaluating the services of the facility while looking for a new physician. Consider the doctor's demeanor and ability to listen and provide relevant feedback to your questions.

Look for information about the costs of treatment for a new healthcare provider. This information is typically available through the office staff and not the doctor. Ask about payment plans and availability of financing if your insurance won't cover necessary procedures.

Tips & Warnings

  • Arrive early to the appointment to gauge the length of waiting times for other patients as well as the number of patients booked into the time slots. Talk to people in the waiting room and ask them how they enjoy the service they receive.
  • Go to meetings with doctors prepared with a list of questions. Too often patients leave an appointment with too little information and unanswered questions because they felt hurried or intimidated by the doctor and the surrounding environment.

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