I know it’s difficult to keep up with all the new rules and regulations with insurance, medical sharing groups, and physician visits. If you think it’s hard for you, just think how wild it can get at the doctor’s office with all the confusion going on and changes being made.
Here are some things to help you prepare for a trip to the doctor:
- Medications. List everything you take, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements, and keep that list current. When it’s time for your appointment, bring your list and gather all those pills with you if this is a first-time visit. Many doctor’s offices will ask you to bring your pills every time, particularly if you take controlled substances such as narcotics, as you might be randomly tested to ensure you’re taking them correctly. These are federal regulations, so don’t feel as if you’re being isolated out.
- Fasting. If you’re preparing for certain blood tests, the medical staff will instruct you to have nothing to eat after midnight (or some other time. Just do what they say). That doesn’t mean not to drink. You need to drink at least 32 ounces (yes, four eight-ounce glasses) of water before having your blood drawn. It will make the blood draw much easier for you and for the phlebotomist, and will save a lot of time.
- If you are running a fever, wear a mask. You don’t want to risk spreading a viral illness. Many clinics will provide a mask for you. Use it, and use the alcohol provided to clean your hands. Remember that sick people go to the doctor’s office every day, and not everyone is concerned about others who might follow them. Exam rooms are cleaned and sprayed down after every patient, but waiting rooms are busy places and a busy staff cannot spray or clean after every person has been through. Protect yourself and others from spread of disease.
- Have your insurance card and copay ready, as well as a driver’s license or other photo ID if this is a first-time visit. If you’re paying cash, you may receive a cash discount, so be sure to tell the receptionist ahead of time and find out what a cash price will be. Remember that additional tests, etc., will likely be over and above the quoted price, but most clinics will work with you
- Be prepared for paperwork. The more complicated the rules become, the more paperwork you’ll be expected to fill out. Some clinics will send you paperwork ahead of time, but most will ask you to arrive early to give you time to complete the forms before your appointment. Another option is to pick up a packet from the clinic before your appointment so you can fill out the forms at your leisure.
- Be thorough. Most clinics have a set amount of time during which they may see each patient. The more you write in the paperwork provided to you, the more your doctor will know about how to help you.
- Remember that sometimes, with multiple medical problems, a physician might not be able to get to everything in one visit. Be prepared for another visit.
- Remember that physician and staff are constrained by multiple regulations that they must meet, not only with federal rules, but by differing insurance regulations, depending on the insurance company. They do not automatically receive test results or documentation from other physicians or hospitals, so it is up to you to bring those test results, x-rays, etc., with you to ensure the physician will receive the most comprehensive information to make a wise decision about your medical care.
I hope this helps guide you through your next trip to the doctor.