Finding in-network doctors is a tall task on its own, but finding doctors that meet all of your needs requires an even trickier vetting process, one that can be overwhelming to begin. But a strong doctor-patient relationship is one of the most important things to have in place as your medical needs evolve. And it’s entirely possible to find a great fit that you can afford.
Here’s how to do it in three steps.
1. Know Who’s in Network
The first step is to find your health insurance plan’s list of in-network doctors. These are the medical professionals who work with your insurance carrier to produce the lowest out-of-pocket costs for their patients. Most carriers have online tools you can use to easily search for doctors who work with your network, making it easy to find one nearby.
If you find a doctor you’re interested in seeing, check their website or call their office to confirm that they take your insurance, since networks can change and information can fall out of date.
2. Assess Your Needs
While the complexity of your needs plays a major role in determining the doctors who will be a best fit for you, it isn’t always easy to know exactly what medical care you will require from a chosen doctor. For minimal medical issues and yearly checkups, general or family practice physicians are the best way to go. For particular conditions or chronic issues, a specialist or internal medicine physician with expertise in the appropriate field might be a better choice.
If you’re part of a health maintenance organization (or HMO), you may need to seek out such a physician through your primary care doctor, who can refer you to outside practices. These referrals mitigate heavy costs common in seeking specialized doctors who might not otherwise be directly available as in-network doctors on an HMO plan.
3. Find the Right Fit
You’ve assessed your needs and identified doctors in your carrier’s network. But finding a good personal fit can be the most challenging aspect of this process. When you consider what you want from your chosen in-network doctor, look for someone you can be completely open and honest with when it comes to your medical questions and concerns.
Online reviews can help, but family and friends may be the best resources for recommending a doctor you will feel comfortable speaking with on a regular basis about personal issues. You can also schedule a consultation with a few possible options, allowing you to meet with doctors one on one and get to know their communication styles and demeanors.
Finding in-network doctors you feel a comfortable and supportive connection with not only limits out-of-pocket expenses but is ultimately beneficial for your health, too. Knowing how to communicate with your physicians — and trusting that they understand your concerns — makes the detection and treatment of any potential conditions far easier.
Having the peace of mind that comes with a doctor you trust is invaluable, and finding that relationship without excessive out-of-pocket costs is ideal. With a little bit of care, it’s simpler than ever to find exactly what you’re looking for from your medical care.