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Choosing a health care provider that will handle all of your family?s health care needs is a difficult decision. This is the physician that will treat your children, answer all of your health care concerns, and be there when you have medical questions. These are some of the most important characteristics to look for when choosing a family health care physician.

Hours of business

Of course, you want a family health care physician that is available during your available hours. If you work nights and weekends, it will not be too hard to find a physician that has availability during the traditional workday. However, if you work a normal workday too, you will want to find a physician with later hours. You can also choose a physician?s office that is closely connected with an after hours urgent care center. According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs. These numbers can make it more difficult to find a physician with extended hours.

Scheduling policies

Because physicians often have many patients on their caseload, they can fill up pretty fast. You want to understand your family health care physician?s scheduling policies. If your child is ill, you don?t want to wait weeks until you can get an appointment with them. Ask questions about how they handle medical emergencies and how far out their current medical appointments are. If you cannot get an appointment with your primary physician and have to go to the emergency room, it can be expensive. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey reports that the average ER visitor pays total costs of $1,318 and a mean cost of $615.

What types of health insurance they accept

You will also need to choose a primary physician that is within your insurance policy. Otherwise, your insurance will not cover the services received from them and you could end up owing thousands of dollars. You can find out if a potential physician carries your insurance by calling them. You can also work with your insurance for the family care provider to gather a list of local physicians under your current policy.

It is also important to pay attention to this insurance policy when receiving any medical services away from the primary physician. If you have to go to a community health clinic or health clinic for children, for example, you want to go to one that is covered by your insurance provider. Fortunately, with the internet, you can easily pull up a list of covered providers in your local area.

The specialties they hold

If you or anyone in your family has any special medical needs, you will also want to choose a primary physician based on those needs. Going to a free health clinic or emergency room will get you basic care, but it will not get you specialized care for your unique medical needs. Again, the internet provides you an abundance of information about physicians and their specific specialties. You can also ask for referrals from your primary physician for any specialists. While physician specialists might cost more under your insurance policy, the specialized care and education are often worth it.

Not having a specified primary physician for your family?s healthcare can be problematic. Between 2003 and 2009, the mean wait time in ERs went up by a quarter, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. The cost of ER services also went up, especially if you are not using insurance. Keep these characteristics in mind when choosing your family primary care physician.