There are many health care services in Hampton Roads for military, civilians and veterans, including insurance options offered through the Affordable Care Act. Visit www.healthcare.gov for information on open enrollment for health care coverage under the national Affordable Care Act. Virginia currently has three carriers that offer 23 plans to its residents. Two groups — Advanced Patient Advocacy LLC (www.aparesults.com) and Virginia Poverty Law Center (www.VPLC.org) — can help walk applicants through the maze of choices.
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 list of free and charitable clinics and community health centers in Virginia, visit the Virginia Health Care Foundation website at www.vhcf.org/looking-for-help and select “Medical Care” in the box on the left. There are nearly 60 free and charitable clinics and over 100 community health centers in the state.
The Virginia Dental Association’s website, www.vadental.org, has roster lists that are useful places to start looking for a dentist. From its home page, click on “For the Public,” then “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 for good oral health care, so take your time and choose one that you and your family feel comfortable with.
The Virginia Health Care Foundation, www.vhcf.org/looking-for-help, can assist with locating free or low-cost dental care. Go to its website and click on “Dental Care” in the box on the left to bring up text containing the necessary links.
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, check the Virginia Board of Medicine’s practitioner directory at www.vahealthprovider.com/search.asp. You can browse for a provider by name, location or specialty. 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. 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.
- Visit the American Medical Association’s website at www.ama-assn.org for patient health care resources.
- Ask health insurance plans and medical offices for information on their doctors’ training and experience.
- Has the doctor completed several years of training in a specialty and passed an exam? 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 Virginia Board of Medicine at www.dhp.virginia.gov/medicine, and click on “Case Decisions” to the left, or call 804-367-4400.
Call the doctor’s office and ask for an appointment. Most doctors will take time to meet potential patients, but you should expect a nominal fee for the use of 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? Did the doctor seem rushed or tired? Did you get a good first impression? Did you feel comfortable revealing personal information? Did the doctor seem caring, compassionate and sympathetic to your concerns?
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.