Choosing the best health care for your needs can depend on many factors:
Key Things to Consider
What Your Insurance Covers
- Find out which doctors participate in your health insurance plan.
- If you are having surgery, check to see if all providers (radiologists, anesthesiologists) are also covered by your plan, to avoid surprise bills.
Whether a Doctor or Healthcare Service is Accredited
- Find out if they are licensed in your state. A state or local occupational and professional licensing board will be able to give you this information.
- Research whether they are board-certified in the appropriate specialty. You can find this information on the website of the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Certification Matters lookup.
A Healthcare Provider's Track Record
- Look into how often the health care professional has done the procedure you need or has treated your condition. You may be able to find some of this information on the Internet. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report the success rates and number of procedures performed by fertility clinics. Some states collect and post data on the success of heart-bypass surgery.
- Check whether there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions taken against your health care provider by contacting your state medical board.
Location and Availability
- Find out whether the doctor's office is in an area that you can get to easily.
- Ask if the office has hours during times when you can make an appointment.
- Check whether the doctor has privileges at the hospital you prefer.
Relationship with Your Healthcare Provider
- Make sure you communicate well with your healthcare provider.
- He or she should listen to your concerns and clearly explain diagnoses and benefits of new treatments and prescriptions.
Review Health Provider and Service Directories
These resources can help you search for doctors and health care services:
- HealthFinder.gov helps you search for doctors, other providers, and various types of healthcare centers and services.
- If you are enrolled in Medicare, you can find Medicare-certified doctors and healthcare facilities, learn about the services they offer, and compare the care they provide.
Learn about Low Cost Services
If you need help paying for health services:
- See if you qualify for lower costs on health insurance.
- Apply for limited free or low cost dental care.
- Find a local health care center, offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which provides care, even if you have no health insurance. You pay what you can afford, based on your income. These healthcare centers provide:
- Checkups when you're well.
- Treatment when you're sick.
- Complete care when you're pregnant.
- Immunizations and checkups for your children.
- Dental care and prescription drugs for your family.
- Mental health and substance abuse care if you need it.