1. Make sure your insurance covers the physician you wish to see and also ask your insurance how well they cover services that you may need in the future, such as higher priced medications, eyeglasses, wound care, orthotics, medical equipment, physical therapy, and wound dressings. You may not need them today, but you may need them while you have the same insurance.
2. If you need to make changes, insurances have open enrollment periods and many are October through December.
3. Make sure your physician is willing to work you in if you are sick.
4. In an office visit, only one major illness or concern can be adequately worked on at a time.
5. Bring all previous test results with you along with your medications.
6. Getting medical conditions under control takes work from you and your physician, and then chronic conditions need to be monitored regularly to make sure you have as few problems as possible. Usually, conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are checked every three months in order to prevent complications such as stroke, heart attack, foot ulcers, and vision loss. Going in every three months seems like a hassle, but it will keep you out of the hospital more than those who do not have regular visits with their physician.
7. Work with your physician to make small steps toward living a healthier lifestyle.
8. If you think you need any controlled substances for anxiety or pain control, House Bill 1 now requires physicians to have records from your previous physician, as well as a treatment plan in place for treating chronic pain. This treatment plan must include things like physical therapy, trigger point injections, home exercises, and other modalities to treat pain and not just controlled medications. Please do not ask for prescriptions until all these items are in place.
Gay Fulkerson, MD, is a board certified family physician and wound care/hyperbaric specialist.