5 tips to plan ahead for medical care
Don’t wait until you’re hurt or sick to start thinking about your choices for medical treatment:
Find a physician you trust. If you don’t have a primary care provider, you should get one. Be persistent and call around if availability is an issue. Experts agree it’s important to have a doctor who knows you — and your medical history.
Research your options. In addition to your primary care doctor, check online for retail clinic and urgent care center hours and services in your area. Be sure to read the fine print as these vary by location.
Call for guidance. Still unsure? Don’t hesitate to consult different providers. Many doctors’ offices have phone lines staffed by nurses and paging systems where physicians can be reached after hours. Some health insurance plans also have nurse lines.
Don’t take chances. If you have suffered severe trauma, lost a lot of blood or are facing any other medical emergency, call 911 and don’t waste time getting to the emergency room.
Consider staying home. If it’s a minor illness you’ve whipped before, think about toughing it out. As one doctor puts it, not every cold demands a trip to the emergency room — or even a retail clinic.