Building Your Healthcare Team
Check Them Out
Once you have a list of doctors, there are several ways to check on their skills and knowledge, and the quality of care they provide:
- Find out if a consumer or other group has rated doctors in the area where you live. Again you will want to find out how reliable the ratings are.
- Information on doctors in some states is available on the Internet at http://www.docboard.org. This website is run by Administrators in Medicine — a group of State medical board directors.
- The American Board of Medical Specialties (1-800-733-2267) can tell you if the doctor is board certified. "Certified" means that the doctor has completed a training program in a specialty and has passed an exam (board) to assess his or her knowledge, skills, and experience to provide quality patient care in that specialty. Primary care doctors also may be certified as specialists. You can also check the website at www.certifacts.org. (While board certification is a good measure of a doctor's knowledge, it is possible to receive quality care from doctors who are not board certified.)
- Call the American Medical Association (AMA) at (312) 464-5000 for information on training, specialties, and board certification about many licensed doctors in the United States. This information also can be found in "Physician Select" at AMA's website: https://apps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/home.jsp.
- Visit the website for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (http://www.aace.com) to see if a doctor is an AACE members. AACE members are physicians with special education, training and interest in the practice of clinical endocrinology.
- The American Diabetes Association's Newly Diagnoses information leads you to a physician search directory where you can find doctors who have met ADA standards of diabetes care. Go to http://recognition.ncqa.org/ to search.
Interview Them Over the Phone
After you pick two or three doctors, call their offices. The office staff can give you information about the doctor's education and training. They can also tell you about office policies, what insurance the office takes, if they file the insurance claims for you, what types of payment they accept, and to what hospitals the doctor sends patients.
Some questions you might want to ask are:
- What type of health insurance does the office take?
- Where is the doctor's office located? Is there parking?
- How long is the usual office visit?
- Is the doctor part of a group practice? If the doctor is part of a group, you may want to find out who the other doctors are and their specialties.
- Who sees patients if the doctor is out of town or not available?
- Can I get lab work or x-rays done in the office or nearby?
- Is the doctor board certified? Board-certified doctors have extra training and pass special exams after medical school to become specialists in a field of medicine such as family practice, internal medicine, or geriatrics.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...