How to Choose an Endocrinologist
Finding this important member of your diabetes management team
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
February 2008 — Going to the endocrinologist can be an interesting (even stressing) experience for most people. Latinos may find themselves challenged in more ways than one when having to choose and see an "endo" (as people with diabetes like to call them) for the first time.
Ironically, finding an endocrinologist is the easy part. You should follow the suggestions offered by Janis Roszler to save yourself some work. Once you've written down a few names and phone numbers of doctors in your area comes the first real challenge - you have to find one that accepts your insurance.
This may be a disheartening process because not all endocrinologists will take your insurance. As a matter of fact, some (as I recently learned upon settling down after a cross-country move) do not even accept insurance altogether! Make sure you do your homework and make sure you can afford the doctor co-payment before you make an appointment.
Once you have identified a doctor that is happy to take your insurance card comes a tough thing to admit: you will not get as much face time when you see your endo as you would like. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists has somewhere over 5,200 members. With over 21 million people with diabetes in the U.S. (and diabetes is only one of the endocrine disorders that endos treat), you can imagine why it is difficult to sometimes even get an appointment.
You may be able to find a Latino endocrinologist that takes your insurance in your area, but those are fairly rare. So there is a good chance you will have to forego the chitchat we are used to before going over your EAG values or changes to your medication with your new endo. Give it a chance and remember this is perhaps one of the areas where the cultural differences of the Latino community can be felt the most: it's nothing personal against you.
This doesn't mean, however, that you should settle for a "robotic" endocrinologist or an office staff that treats you like another number in a herd of patients. You should still expect to be treated with courtesy and respect and it is a reasonable expectation for you to be able to "connect" with your endo and present him or her with all the questions and concerns you may have in every appointment.
Overall, no matter how much of an uphill struggle this process sounds like, it is worth every minute you spend on it. This is your health you're dealing with, so you should not take lightly the selection of the person who will give you the most important medical advice to help you better manage your diabetes.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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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...