Finding the best doctor can be an incredibly daunting task. Some individuals will simply peruse the physician's list and determine the best doctor by viewing their certifications, awards, alma mater and number of years practiced. Most individuals with health insurance, however, will be limited by the constraints of their health insurance policy. These individuals may only peruse the list of individuals that are within their network of physicians. In this instance, the same criteria may be used to select the best physician. Finding the best doctor will depend upon the health insurance policy, the region and the physicians available to the patient.
Indemnity Health Plans
These patients have the most freedom in selecting the best doctors available to them. Patients with indemnity health plans must simply research any available physician in their area. They may begin by seeking referrals from a trusted friend, colleague or primary care physician. Alternatively, the insurance company may provide a list of physicians in the area. The lists may catalogue their physician's accomplishments, alma mater, years practiced, specialization and whether or not the doctor is accepting new patients. Alternatively, individuals may search for a physician online. Several directories are available that will allow patients to view ratings of physicians, as well as, other pertinent information. WebMD.com and FindaDoc.com are two sources where patients may receive information regarding physicians.
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
Selecting a physician with a health maintenance organization is easier. However, the patient receives fewer choices. When a patient enrolls in a HMO, they will receive a booklet from their employer or health insurance provider. The booklet will list all of the physicians that are available in the HMO network. Patients may select from any of the physicians listed in the booklet or on the insurance company's website. Most of the insurance companies will provide a wealth of information about the physician. Some of the information will include location, alma mater, specializations, number of years in practice, awards, certifications, board positions held and other pertinent information. Physicians may be selected based upon these criteria. Patients may also view the physician's website or call for additional information regarding the physician. After gathering this information, patients may select the best doctor for their particular health problem.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Since the preferred provider organization is a cross-breed between the indemnity health care plan and the HMO, patients may combine the two approaches to find the best physician. The patient may first peruse the booklet of physicians provided to treat their particular health problem. If they cannot find a physician to suit their needs in the handbook provided, they may then select a physician out-of-network. This gives the patient the best of both worlds. To find a doctor out-of-network, patients may use referrals from friends or colleagues. Alternatively, they may search online to find a physician through WebMD.com or FindaDoc.com. A patient may also locate a reputable hospital and ask for referrals in the area they desire to receive treatment.
High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Plans
Many of these plans allow patients the flexibility to select either an indemnity high deductible health plan or a managed care high deductible health plan. The plan chosen will determine the types of doctors the patient may select. For instance, a patient with a high deductible health indemnity health plan may select any physician they choose. Conversely, patients with a high deductible HMO or PPO must operate under the constraints listed above.
Patients who save money in a tax-free savings account such as, a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) will have the flexibility to use these funds to visit a physician of their choice if they are not satisfied with the choices provided. In this instance, patients are afforded more flexibility to select the best physicians available in any area pending the doctor is accepting new patients.