There are many health care services in Pierce County for military, civilians and veterans, though implementation of the Affordable Care Act has changed established insurance options. Visit www.healthcare.gov or www.wahbexchange.org for information on open enrollment for health care coverage under the national Affordable Care Act. Washington Healthplanfinder has a network of customer support in the state to help walk applicants through the maze of choices. Applicants can receive assistance online, over the phone or in person. For more information on enrollment support, visit www.wahbexchange.org/new-customers/application-quick-tips/customer-support-network.
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 list of community health centers in Pierce County, visit the Community Health Care website at www.commhealth.org.
The Washington State Dental Association website, www.wsda.org, is a useful place to start in finding a dentist. Under the “Public” drop-down menu, select “Find a Dentist.” 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 that you and your family feel comfortable with.
The Washington State Department of Health can give you tips for oral health and low-cost dental care. Visit its oral health website at www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/OralHealth.
FINDING A LOCAL DOCTOR
It’s important to find a health care provider before an urgent medical need arises. 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.
Before you arrive at your new assignment, you can check the Washington State Medical Association’s online directory at https://wsma.org. In the “For Patients and Physicians” drop-down menu select “Find a Physician.” You can browse for a provider by specialty or by location. That should give you an 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.
You can check a doctor’s certification at the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org. To see if anyone has registered a complaint or taken disciplinary action against the doctor, visit the Washington State Medical Commission at www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/MedicalCommission or call 360-236-2750. When you have selected a health care provider, consider the following.
- When you scheduled your 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?
- When you arrived for your appointment, 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?
- When the doctor arrived and introduced himself or herself, did he or she seem rushed or tired? Did you get a good first impression?
- During the consultation, did nurses or assistants pop in and out? Did the doctor seem caring, compassionate and sympathetic to your concerns? Did you feel comfortable revealing personal information? Did the doctor rush through the meeting?
Treat finding a doctor as seriously as looking for a new job or a new home. You want to be comfortable with the person who will see you while you are most vulnerable.