The first person you generally call when you have a health-related question or feel sick is a primary care provider, which is typically a doctor. Before making an appointment, you can prepare by considering these five tips to help make the most of your doctor’s visit.
Review what’s covered by your insurance.
Health plans can be complex, so review the coverage before scheduling an appointment. You should determine which doctors are in-network, review the covered services and understand what you should expect to pay. Doing this will help you avoid any costly surprises.
Think about any health issues you have or questions you want to ask.
We can all be forgetful every once in a while, so take time to prepare for an upcoming doctor’s appointment. Consider writing your health concerns and questions down on a piece of paper or typing them into your smartphone to help you remember.
Bring your insurance card and medical information to the appointment.
After joining a health plan, you will receive a health insurance ID card, either in the mail or online. It includes information on your name, health plan’s name, personal health plan identification number and the name and number of your plan “group.” You should always remember to bring this credit-card sized document to your appointment, because it lets doctors, hospitals and other health care providers know what kind of benefits you have, if they’re a part of your health plan’s network and how to bill for your care. UnitedHealthcare members can use the Health4Me® app to display their ID card on their smart phone or tablet and they can even email the card to their doctor if they choose.
You should also bring your medical information, including the allergies you have and the medications you currently take. This helps doctors better assess your health, answer your questions and treat you properly. The more information they have, the more they can personalize your course of action and help enhance your health. If you’re seeing a new doctor, this information will likely be requested prior to your appointment. Your previous doctor may even need to send your medical charts.
Take notes during the appointment, or have a friend or relative join you at the appointment.
Sometimes, the information a primary care provider relays to you can be confusing and complicated. Ask plenty of questions and take detailed notes. Another alternative is to bring a friend or relative to the appointment. They can help listen and ask questions you may not have thought of as well as remind you of what was said during the appointment.
Establish a trusted relationship with your primary care provider.
Seeing the same primary care provider can help build trust between you and your doctor. This can make you feel more comfortable to share your medical history. The more your doctor knows about you, the easier it is for them to personalize the care you receive. It may even make it easier to get an appointment when you need care quickly. This could save you from a visit to an urgent care center or an emergency room, which often takes substantial time and money.
Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it by not being prepared.