Your physician is an essential people in your life. They should be someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing any health-related matter, whose knowledge you trust, and whose treatments work for you.
If you feel that isn’t happening, however, it’s both your right and responsibility to your health to find a better fit. But choosing to leave your physician can be a big decision. Consider all of your options before making the giant leap.
Reasons you may need to leave your physician or doctor:
- They’ve stopped taking your insurance. Sometimes, physicians change the coverages they accept and discontinue accepting specific insurance plans. Patients may also be affected if the practice cuts down on Medicare or Medicaid patients, or if their provider changes medical practices by opening a new one or joining another.
- Your situation has changed. Many life changes may leave you needing to leave your current physician. Maybe your insurance plan has changed because you got married, divorced, or started a new job. Also, if you move, visiting your old doctor’s office may be impractical or impossible.
- Your physician is not meeting your needs. Perhaps you’ve developed a new condition requiring a more specialized background, or your doctor’s treatment philosophy differs from yours. For example, you may prefer a more holistic approach or want a more definite diagnosis requiring testing your doctor is not willing or able to do.
- It’s challenging to get appointments. If your physician is very busy, making it difficult to schedule appointments when you need them, you may want to consider a new provider. Getting care when you need it is often vital.
- It just doesn’t feel right. It’s essential patients trust their physicians, feel confident in their doctors’ abilities and current knowledge, feel heard, can communicate openly without judgment, and feel safe in their provider’s care. If you don’t feel this, or you have a gut feeling it isn’t a good fit, listen to your instincts. When it comes to your health, do what’s best for you.
How to find a new physician
Should you decide to leave your current healthcare provider, begin searching for a new one immediately, even if you don’t need to see one right away. It often takes several months for new patients to get an appointment. After your new patient visit, future visits can be are scheduled within a more reasonable timeframe. When calling around, ask what is typical for scheduling appointments once you become an established patient.
Before you begin your search, list the reasons you left your old doctor so you can avoid those same problems in the future. Then make a list of what you want or expect from your new physician.
Narrow your search only to providers who take your insurance. Otherwise, you won’t be covered or may have to pay more out of pocket for your visits. If you can change insurance, you might consider physicians outside your insurance network.
Your insurance provider can help you search for physicians and practices with whom they have an agreement. You can narrow your search to fit your criteria. Then contact doctors’ offices directly to determine if they are a good match for you and accept new patients.
Once you’ve found a good fit, check your state’s online licensing board website. Most providers can continue practicing despite problems in their history, including malpractice. If the doctor you’re considering comes from another state, check that state’s licensing board, as well. You can also do an internet search for the doctor to see what information is available or read reviews. Online reviews may be unreliable, so don’t put too much weight on them.
Also, there’s no harm in trying a few new physicians before making a final decision. If the doctor doesn’t fit your needs, you can always continue your search. Just don’t overdo the trials. You want to have a physician who knows you and your history, especially if you have particular health concerns. Seeing the same doctor will help ensure consistency in your treatment. Changing doctors can be trying because you’ll need to transfer all of your health records and fill out new patient paperwork each time.