How should you choose a new child healthcare provider? Whether you're a first-time parent, you've recently moved, or you just want to switch pediatricians, take a look at the questions to ask before you select a practice for your child.
Does the Children's Healthcare Provider Accept Your Medical Insurance?
How will you pay for your child's medical care? Out of pocket isn't the best answer to this question. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average cost of raising a child is $233,610. Unnecessary healthcare expenditures for self-pay services will only add to this estimate and make your overall family expenses higher. To avoid out-of-pocket healthcare costs, make sure your child's potential future pediatrician accepts your medical insurance.
If your policy has an in- and out-of-network doctor list, look for the practice on the in-network side. In-network doctors have agreed upon billing arrangements with insurance companies. While some policies will pay for partial costs of out-of-network providers, these doctors will cost you more to see than in-network options.
Does the Office Have Hours That Match Your Schedule?
Your child needs a well-visit. But you work Monday through Friday from morning through the late afternoon. This means you will need to take time off from work to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician who only has weekday, daylight hours. Instead of a nine to five, Monday through Friday schedule, look for a practice that has early morning, evening, or weekend appointments.
How Does the Practice Handle Sick Child Appointments?
Child healthcare is more than just annual well visits. What happens if your child has a fever, sore throat, or other symptoms? Ask the pediatrician or their staff about sick child visits, scheduling, and other options. Some practices have telemedicine consults, special walk-in clinic hours, or will fit sick children into the doctor's schedule for a same-day appointment.
Does the Pediatrician Understand Your Family's Healthcare Beliefs and Needs?
Every child is an individual — and you believe that it's important for the doctor to understand and value this. Whether you have beliefs about the number of antibiotics some doctors prescribe, vaccinations, over-the-counter medications, or other treatments, you need a children's healthcare provider who you feel comfortable with.
What Are the Doctor's Qualifications?
Even though it is important for the doctor to share your health-related values, parents shouldn't confuse this issue with second-guessing the provider's professional opinion. Your child's doctor should have a high degree of training and experience. Years of college, medical school, a residency, and possibly a fellowship have made your child's future new pediatrician an expert in the field.