Finding a good primary care doctor

Many health insurance plans require you to designate a primary care physician. You want a kind, caring, competent one. But choosing Doctor Right is daunting.

It’s an important choice. Your primary care doctor is critical to your health. Evidence suggests that having a primary care doctor means you’re less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or a stroke. You’re also less likely to need to go to an emergency room or be admitted to a hospital.

Here are some tips for finding a good doctor:

 Use your first appointment with any new doctor to make sure you’ll work well together.

 Did he or she listen without interrupting? Did the doctor ask more than just a checklist of yes/no questions?

 You want a doctor who also asks for your input. How do you feel about possible treatment options?

Patients who have a strong relationship with their physician not only report greater satisfaction with their care but also better overall health.

And above all, you want a doctor who orders the right tests and prescribes the best possible treatment. Reliable data on those measures are hard to find, although physician report cards are becoming more common. You can go to informedpatientInstitute.org to see whether there’s a report card for your doctor.

You also want a primary care physician you can afford. So call the office to make sure the doctor is in your insurance plan. And find out his or her hospital affiliation. If the hospital is outside your network, you could be hit by a big bill.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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