Seniors: How to Choose the Right Doctor

Whether you are an independent senior citizen or the caregiver of a senior, you know that choosing medical support can be a challenge- especially when you add in the stress that comes with understanding your Medicare insurance.

We have come up with a few tips that make the search for a doctor or specialist that much easier. These tips involve using proactivity and preparedness as tools to ensure your family is in great medical hands.

Tip One. Make a list of recommendations from family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else whose opinion you trust. Once this list is made, do your own research to determine which of these healthcare providers work with your insurance plans. Also, check on their reviews online from a third party source. This will help ensure accurate information.

Tip Two. If the list of medical providers you collected from friends and family is shorter than you’d hoped, go to your local library. The Directory of Physicians in the United States and the Official American Board of Medical Specialties Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists are available as references at many public libraries. The books don’t actually recommend specific doctors, but they do give a list of doctors that you can consider. It’s a good start, aside from personal recommendations.

Tip Three. Try to seek a “Board Certified” doctor. These doctors have had extra training in certain areas and have passed an exam certifying their specialization. Doctors with a board certification in geriatrics will know the most about what you or your parents may be facing in the years to come. This is not to say that it is impossible to find a good doctor who is not board certified, it just ensures that little extra knowledge and support.

Tip Four. Do some digging! Sometimes negative information or complaints about a doctor are well hidden, but that does not mean they don’t exist. Make sure to call and check with local and state medical societies to determine if there have been any complaints about the physician you’re looking into. Some may be applicable to your medical needs, some may not. But it is still worth the call to add a little more protection for you.

Tip Five. There are MANY medical providers to choose from so make sure, when all is said and done, that you get along well with the physician you choose, that they have YOUR best interest in mind and that they are available for new patients. Remember, you can always get a second opinion if you feel you have not been given accurate or helpful information. Don’t settle based on principle. Make sure you are getting the care you want and deserve.

Understanding your insurance is a big part of ensuring you choose the right doctor. Stay tuned for this week’s next article “Medicare 101″ which explains the basics of Medicare and how to understand the physician office “lingo” for Medicare participation.