The passage of the Affordable Care Act has made insurance more affordable and helped many millions more people get insurance. That has meant many more patients getting into the healthcare system, which is not necessarily up to the task.
It’s estimated that the U.S. will need more than 50,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025 to meet the healthcare needs of the population. At the same time, however, many doctors are retiring or choosing to go into concierge medicine because they feel overwhelmed by new insurance regulations.
One solution thus far has been more urgent care facilities and more doctors working in an urgent care setting. In the past seven years, the U.S. has added 1,300 urgent care centers or emergency walk in clinics. And there are about 20,000 doctors practicing at a=urgent care centers, a number that is constantly growing. The advantage of such medical walk in clinics is that they are more convenient than a primary care physician’s office, which has limited hours and at which it can be hard to find an appointment time, and they are much cheaper for patients and insurers than going to the emergency room with what often turns out to be a fairly minor illness. However, such clinics do not help people find a regular doctor or establish a regular relationship with one, which can be an important part of long-term health maintenance.
So how do you go about finding a regular doctor? There are a number of ways. A good place to start in your primary care physician search is to ask friends, family members and co-workers for ideas and recommendations. Once you have some names, you can go online and look at primary care physician reviews and other information that is on the Internet. People tend to play up negativity in Primary care physician reviews. which doesn’t give you really good information about the doctor, but you can steer clear of any doctors who seem to have a lot of negative reviews online.
Once you have found a doctor that looks like a good bet, your next step should probably be to schedule an appointment or consultation. You should tell the receptionist that you are looking for a doctor, as the practice might give discounts to first-time patients.
Among the things you should be considering when you meet the potential doctor are: do his/her office hours gel with your schedule? Does the practice accept your insurance? Are you comfortable with the doctor’s personality and bedside manner? Does the doctor seem interested in your health history? If you do decide that doctor is the right one for you, make sure to get any pertinent information you need on insurance, appointment scheduling and other important healthcare topics.
Though primary care physician reviews can’t tell you everything you need to know about a doctor, they are a good place to start in your search for a regular doctor.