Taking Control of Your Healthcare

My roommate is a nursing major, and she keeps telling me I need to take better care of my health. I don’t want to admit she’s right, but, well, she’s right. But the thing is, I went to the same doctor from the time I was born until I moved to campus. Obviously, I can’t do that anymore. My parents say I’m still on their health insurance, but where do I find a good doctor in my current town? I could use a little expert advice because right now, I’m feeling so overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to start.

First of all, it’s totally understandable if you’re feeling a bit confused. Finding a new medical provider can seem complicated, but it’s a critical part of adulthood. Recognizing that you need a regular physician puts you ahead of the game because a lot of Americans aren’t doing a great job at getting the preventive care they need. The Centers for Disease Control says that people in America “use preventative services at about half the recommended rate.” Chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer are responsible for three-fourths of health care spending in this country. Those shouldn’t be issues when you’re in college, but chronic conditions can sneak up on you as you age.

You’re also doing well by having health insurance through your parents. A provision in the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep their children covered under their plan until they turn 26. If you don’t already have an insurance card, contact your parents and get them to mail you one. You may even be able to download a copy of your card from your health insurance company’s website. Once you’ve done that, then you’ll be on your way to narrowing down the eligible providers in your area. Many healthcare providers’ websites have a list of in-network providers that you can view based on location.

But how do you know that you’ll be setting up an appointment with a medical provider who can, well, provide high-quality care? You’re going to need to do a more than just call the first doctor on the list. It’s worth investing a more time in your health than that. Before you make an appointment, check out the website HealthSoul. It has a ton of health care provider reviews for you to sort through as you make your decision. In fact, the website says it has the “world’s largest directory of healthcare reviews.”

When it comes to reviews, a lot is always better than a little. Think of picking a doctor as if you’re picking a college. When you decided on your school, did you want to talk to just one alumnus of the college, or did you want to talk to several? Getting more information helps you make a better choice. When you use HealthSoul, you can even sort doctors by specialty. If that pre-law major is making you so stressed that you’re breaking out all over, then you can look for “Dermatology” on the drop-down menu. It’s also common for college students to feel depressed or anxious. If that’s happening, you can use the search function to find highly reviewed psychiatrists in your area. If you just want a general physician to see for annual check-ups, look under the “Family Medicine” category.

You need to feel comfortable with your medical provider. If you don’t feel comfortable, then you’re less likely to open up about your health issues. Looking at reviews isn’t the same as being in an exam room with a doctor, true, but it can give you a good idea of what to expect once you meet your new doctor. If you know what to expect, you’re way less likely to be apprehensive about that initial visit.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi