How to Find a New Doctor after a Move
I moved to a new state three months ago after living in the same town for close to 20 years. I was prepared for the difficulty of adjusting to a new place as a person with a disability. I thought the worst part would be hiring and training new personal care assistants. No question but that has been rough. However, the most difficult part of this entire move has been locating doctors.
First, I ask for referrals from my doctors before I moved. They were absolutely no help at all. Not one knew anyone in the Eastern Pennsylvania area. So, I collected all my medical records and figured I'd locate someone once I got here.
My sister made several phone calls on my behalf and we compiled a list of family/friend recommended physicians. Unfortunately, the doctors also had to accept my particular insurance, accept new patients, be familiar with quadriplegics, have exam tables that changed height in order to facilitate transfers in and out of the wheelchair, and provide assistance for transfers if I were unable to bring enough help.
It turns out that all those very necessary requirements were hard to find. I tried my insurance companies' list of doctors in their network. That list was not correct. In one case, I was told a doctor accepted my insurance only to arrive for an appointment and be told that they didn't.
In some cases, the doctor was perfect but the office was too far away. My new town, small city really, is much larger than I am used to.
Spend A Lot Of Time on the Telephone
So, three months into the process and I am still three specialists short. Here is what I've learned:
- Start by finding a primary care physician. Everything else, according to my insurance company, flows from that person.
- Compile a complete list of your prescriptions so you can get them on your first appointment with your primary care physician. Trying to transfer prescriptions between states can sometimes get complicated.
- Know exactly what type of insurance you have. Many insurance companies provide several types of coverage. Doctors may accept some from a provider but not all.
- When speaking with the doctor's office to schedule an appointment, be very clear about your needs. This is particularly important if you will require any type of assistance while in the exam room. Elevated tables and folks to help with wheelchair transfers should not be expected in every office.
- If you can work with doctors in the same health network, that might facilitate information transfer. For instance, it might make it easier to get medical records from one doctor to another.
- Have a backup plan for when you find a doctor but can't be seen for two months. Are there any walk-in clinics in the area?
A good many insurance companies these days do offer toll free advice anytime of the day. There should be a telephone number on the back of your insurance card or on their website. Be prepared though, their advice is often to see a doctor.