an online resource for baby boomers

Choosing a Doctor

There are many reasons why you might be looking for a new doctor. You may have moved to another city, or your doctor could be retiring. Whatever the reason, the following ideas can help you find a doctor who is right for you.

What Type of Doctor?

For your primary care doctor, you might want a general or family practitioner, an internist, or a geriatrician.

What does Medicare cover?

Most people age 65 and older are eligible for Medicare hospital insurance (Part A). They also can enroll in Medicare medical insurance (Part B) for a monthly fee. Medicare medical insurance helps pay for visits to the doctor. It also covers many other medical services and supplies not covered by Medicare's Part A.Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) is a voluntary Medicare program that helps pay for both brand name and generic prescription drugs at participating area pharmacies. Everyone with Medicare can get this coverage. There is a monthly fee and a deductible cost. Patients must select among the drug plans available in their area. There are many different Medicare plans. Their benefits, costs, and rules vary. Be sure to compare each plan and consider the type of insurance that is best for you. For information about Medicare benefits, call the Social Security Administration office listed in your phone book. Or call the toll-free Medicare hotline at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227/toll-free). Information about Medicare eligibility, enrollment, insurance plans, and more is also available online at

What Should You Look for in a Doctor?

Of course you want a doctor who is well trained and capable. But, in addition, a doctor who takes the time to know you well may be able to help you prevent some health problems and manage problems that do come up. Once you have chosen two or three doctors, call their offices. They can tell you about office policies, standard insurance the office takes, whether or not they file the insurance claims for you, payment methods, and the hospitals where the doctor sends patients.

When choosing a new doctor you may want to know about:

How Do You Make a Good Choice?

Find out as much as you can about the doctor and the practice. Here are more questions you may want to ask the office staff:

The First Appointment

After choosing a doctor, make your first medical appointment. Before going to the doctor's office, write down any questions you may have. It's a good idea to bring a list of your medicines. Include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, even vitamins, supplements, and eye drops.

If you go to a new doctor, be sure to bring your past medical records or have them sent. Your former doctor may charge you for this service. Make a list of any drug allergies or serious drug reactions you've had. During this visit, take time to ask any questions you may still have about the doctor and the practice.

For instance, ask the doctor:

After the meeting, ask yourself if you felt comfortable and confident with this doctor. Were you at ease asking questions? Did the doctor clearly answer your questions? If you are not sure, schedule a visit with one of the other doctors on your list. Finding a doctor that suits your needs is an important first step. Good communication with the doctor and the office staff is key.

Home About Contact Boomers Resource Guide
Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide