There are many health care services in Island County for military, civilians and veterans, though implementation of the Affordable Care Act has changed established insurance options. Visit www.healthcare.gov for information on open enrollment for health care coverage under the national Affordable Care Act. The Washington Healthplanfinder is powered by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange and is the official ACA-compliant health insurance marketplace and website for Washington state. Start your search for information at its website: www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
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 community health centers in the state, visit the website of the Washington Association of Community & Migrant Worker Health Centers at www.wacmhc.org and select “Find a Health Center.”
The Washington State Dental Association website, www.wsda.org, is a useful place to start in finding a dentist with its roster lists. Select “Public” from the home page and choose “Find a Dentist” to locate a dentist, hygienist or dental assistant. 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’s website www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/OralHealth/FindingDentalCare presents a number of options for low-cost or free dental care, as well as tips for oral health. Go to “Oral Health Links” and click on “Finding Dental Care,” “Older Adults,” “Women’s Oral Health” or “Children and Teens” as well as “Oral Health Messages,” which has downloadable Fact Sheets in English and Spanish.
FINDING A LOCAL DOCTOR
The best rule for finding a health care provider in a new location is the sooner, the better. Before arriving at your new assignment, search the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ online website at https://secure.lni.wa.gov/provdir. You can browse for a provider by type 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. 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.
- Ask health insurance plans and medical offices for information on their doctors’ training and experience.
- Use AMA Resources for Patients, the American Medical Association’s free physicians’ information service at www.ama-assn.org.
- 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, write to the ABMS, 353 N. Clark St., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60654 or call 866-275-2267.
- Has anyone registered a complaint or taken disciplinary action against the doctor? To find out more information, contact the Washington State Department of Health Medical Commission at www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/MedicalCommissionCommissionInformation or call 360-236-2750.
Call the doctor’s office and ask for an appointment. Most doctors will take the time to meet with potential patients, but you should expect to pay 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? Was the exam room orderly and clean, with a chair for a family member?
- When the doctor arrived and introduced himself or herself, was it with a smile? Did the doctor seem rushed or tired? Did you get a good first impression? Did you feel comfortable revealing personal information?
- During the consultation, did nurses or assistants pop in and out? Did the doctor leave the room during your conversation? Did the doctor seem caring, compassionate and sympathetic to your concerns? Did the doctor rush through the meeting? Did the doctor seem relaxed? Did you feel as though you were the only patient the doctor had to see that day?
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.