4 Tips To Help You Find Good Medical Care

Resources to consult and questions to ask before choosing a doctor or dentist.

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The Boomerater™ Report, our weekly collaboration with online baby boomer resource Boomerater,  this week gives you tips on questions to ask and websites to visit before choosing a new doctor.

Question: I am looking for a good website that rates doctors and dentists. I have recently changed insurance providers and the new company does not include some of my doctors. It is upsetting in that I really like and trust my current doctors and am worried about making a bad decision. [See 6 Tips to Save on Insurance Costs.]

Get a second opinion. You are right to be cautious. I tried Ratemds.com to find a dentist. The one I picked only had two reviews, but both were 5-star (the best) ratings. I scheduled a check-up appointment for myself and my 18-year-old daughter. The office was in a great area and seemed very well-equipped. After taking 18 X-Rays for each of us we were informed we have serious problems. I had two cavities and two cracked fillings. My daughter, who has never had a cavity (and had a check-up six months ago) was told she had 12 cavities, four of which “could” require root canals. After getting a second opinion from our former dentist (who is not in our current plan), it turns out I needed no work; my daughter had three cavities, none of which was even close to requiring a root canal. The dentist fromRateMDs would have done unnecessary work for the money! I’m now convinced this dentist had people write bogus reviews to lure new patients in. Don’t trust these websites – go to friends to get referrals, or ask the dentist you trust if he knows someone in your plan.

Ask a doctor you trust for a referral. Get a reference from a former doctor you trust. When I went from United Health Care to Aetna I learned my doctor’s office would not take Aetna. I was upset that I had to leave my doctor, but I asked if she would refer me to another doctor in our area that took Aetna. She was very understanding and referred me to three doctors. I followed her advice and am happy with the choice. I have recommended patients to both my current and past doctors and everyone has been very pleased with the care they receive.

Do they take Medicare? Make sure any doctor you go to will take Medicare or you could end up switching again. If you go to Internet Health Pilot you can check your doctor through your state medical board. They give information on what plans they take including whether they participate in Medicare. They also tell if there was any disciplinary action against them. The site has other helpful links for other concerns.

[See Low CPI Creates Medicare Winners and Losers.]

Beware of waivers. Some doctors are forcing patients to sign documents that forbid them from posting negative reviews. This would send up a big red flag to me. Why would they do this unless they had something to hide? Run, don't walk away! I doubt if these so-called written agreements would stand up in court anyway.

Boomerater is an online resource for baby boomers, with directories to help you find everything from a San Francisco financial advisor to New York assisted living facilities. The site also contains forums where boomers can post questions and swap first-hand experiences. If there are questions on your mind that you would like answered by other people who have faced similar situations, or you have advice of your own to share, go toBoomerater.com and participate in the forums. Say that The Best Life sent you.