The best way to ensure you are happy with your medical care is to put some thought into picking the right primary care doctor.

First, you need a list of doctors who take your insurance plan. Get that by calling your medical insurer or looking up the information online. If you have your heart set on a doctor who is not covered by your insurance plan, you will want to find out how much you have to pay out-of-pocket to visit that doctor.

Ask yourself some questions:
– Do you want a male or female doctor?
– How far are you willing to drive to the doctor’s office — especially when you don’t feel well?
– If you don’t have a car, is the office accessible via public transportation?
– Do you want a young doctor, fresh out of residency, or an older doctor with more experience?
– Can the office do lab tests and X-rays on-site, or do you have to go elsewhere?
– Does it matter to you if your doctor has privileges at a certain hospital?
– Is the office staff helpful and friendly?
– How long is the wait for an appointment?
– Does the office handle insurance claims, or do you have to pay and then file claims yourself?
– What are the doctor’s credentials? Is he or she board-certified in family medicine or internal medicine?

You can check to see if a doctor is currently licensed in many locations by doing a search through the Administrators in Medicine site (

After you’ve met with your doctor, you may have other considerations. Keep in mind that most primary care doctors — known as general or family practice doctors — may have only 10 or 15 minutes to see you in a busy office.

– Do you feel comfortable talking to your doctor and having a meaningful conversation?
– Does your doctor listen to you and answer your questions to your satisfaction?
– Do you feel that your doctor cares about your needs and takes you seriously?

A little thought can go a long way toward getting the right doctor, and remember, you can always change doctors if you’re not happy with your experience.