How to Navigate a New Year with New Health Insurance or a New Physician

Author: Sherry Farney

Doctor and Patient

With a New Year just underway, many of us have our health top of mind. We want to lose weight, eat better and exercise more, all good intentions. If you have a new insurance carrier, or are new to Medicare, you will also want to be on top of your coverage. It is important to pay attention to what is in-network and what is not, what is covered in full and what is not, what your co-pays will be, and that you understand your prescription plan. 

New insurance may also bring you the opportunity to choose a new primary care physician. Picking a doctor in-network will usually save you out-of-pocket costs. Your physician can also help you navigate ways to save on prescriptions, including switching to generic drugs whenever possible. 

A primary care provider serves as your first line of defense for everyday health issues and can help catch diseases earlier through screening and testing. They can also advise when more treatment options are available.

“An annual physical is the building block of establishing a complete picture of your health history with your doctor and gives you a time to address any health concerns you may have from the past year,” said Sara Elsayed, MD, a family medicine faculty member at McLaren Flint’s Family Medicine Residency Group practice. “During an annual physical exam, I discuss a patient’s personal health, happiness, and goals. This includes considering family history and additional risk factors you may have.”

Beyond just annual physicals, your primary care provider can serve as your family’s medical home, being the hub when specialty care is needed.

“Your primary care provider knows your health history well,” said Dr. Elsayed. “This is especially valuable if chronic conditions exist, and multiple specialties and services are needed. I always try to empower my patients, enlighten them, and help them discover their physical, mental and emotional potential.”

Primary care providers also offer unparalleled convenience for families, as they see patients of all ages at one location. 

“I see everyone from babies to great-grandparents,” said Dr. Elsayed. “All members of a family can see the same physician without worry of having to switch to another provider due to age or medical condition.”

If you are meeting with a physician for the first time, be sure and come prepared. Bring a current list of any medications you are taking and any surgeries or procedures you have had. It can also help to write down your questions ahead of time, so you don’t forget something important you want to ask. 

As the year progresses your relationship with your new physician will grow and your knowledge of your new insurance will too. In late fall, be sure to make it a habit to evaluate the following to get the most benefit from your insurance plan.

Review Your Deductibles: Deductibles reset at the end of each year, so see where you are at before another New Year begins. If you’ve met your deductible, it’s best to take full advantage of all the services your health plan offers before your deductible resets. 

Review Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Balances: If you have a FSA, be sure and check to see if any unspent funds that will roll over into the New Year. 

If you are seeking a new physician, many of McLaren Flint’s primary care providers are accepting new patients, click here to find a doctor near you.