There are many health care services in the Santa Barbara area for military, civilians and veterans, including under the Affordable Care Act. Visit www.healthcare.gov for information on open enrollment for health care coverage under the national Affordable Care Act, and go to www.coveredca.com for more information on plans and carriers in California.
See the Advertiser Directory in this guide to connect with local hospitals and medical centers, health care centers and health care providers.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CLINICS AND RESOURCES
A community health center or clinic is customarily the place to go for those who have no health insurance or have limited income or ability to pay medical fees. Such clinics accept most insurance and provide affordable, comprehensive health care by well-trained, professional staff. They also serve those who are uninsured and underinsured, and most are open to making sliding scale payment arrangements based on income and family size.
For a full list of community health centers in San Luis Obispo and north Santa Barbara counties, visit the Community Health Centers of the Central Coast Inc. website at www.communityhealthcenters.org and select “Locations.”
The Dental Board of California website, www.dbc.ca.gov, is a useful place to start in finding a dentist with its license verification lists. Select “License Verification” from the home page and select “License Verification” again to find or verify a dentist or dental assistant. You can also seek referrals from people you know who’ve had dental care in the area.
Consider the following to find the best dentist for your needs.
- Are the office hours convenient for your schedule?
- Is the dental office close to your home or office?
- How are dental emergencies handled?
- Does the office appear to be clean and well-organized?
- Is the staff helpful and friendly?
- What are the financial policies and how is insurance handled?
A good relationship with your dentist is essential to good oral health care, so take your time and choose one you and your family feel comfortable with.
The California Dental Association can give you tips for oral health and low-cost dental care. Visit its website at www.cda.org.
FINDING A LOCAL DOCTOR
The best rule in finding a health care provider in a new location is, the sooner, the better. Before arriving at your new assignment, use the Medical Board of California’s license verification tool at www.mbc.ca.gov. You can browse for a provider by location. That should give you can idea of local medical practitioners as well as where you might need to go for specialized care.
Personal referrals from friends or other medical personnel can add to your options. Building trust with a health care provider takes time, so don’t wait until a family member is ill to find a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider.
Keep in mind the following tips and questions as you look for a health care provider.
- Ask health insurance plans and medical offices for information on their doctors’ training and experience.
- Make use of AMA Resources for Patients, the American Medical Association’s free physicians’ information service, at www.ama-assn.org.
- Has the doctor completed several years of training in a specialty? Check out the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org, call 312-436-2600 or write to the ABMS, 353 N. Clark St., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60654.
- Has anyone registered a complaint or taken disciplinary action against the doctor? To find out, check out the Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov or call 916-263-2382.
Call the doctor’s office and ask for an appointment. Most doctors will take time to meet potential patients, but expect a nominal fee for his or her time.
When you meet a doctor and the staff for the first time, consider the following: When scheduling the appointment, was the receptionist friendly, prompt and professional? Did he or she take time to answer your questions? Were you left on hold too long? Did the receptionist seem knowledgeable about the workings of the office? When you arrived, were you greeted promptly? Was the reception area clean and comfortable? Was the staff friendly and willing to answer your questions? Did you have to wait long in the exam room before the doctor arrived? Was the exam room orderly and clean, with a chair for a family member to sit in? When the doctor arrived and introduced himself or herself, was it with a smile? Did the doctor seem rushed or tired?
Treat finding a doctor as seriously as looking for a new job or a new home. Depending on the length of time you will be in the area, this relationship is a long-term commitment, and you want to be comfortable with the person who will see you while you are most vulnerable.