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

Author: Sarah Barber


It’s a brand-new year, and with that 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 that you pay attention to what is in-network and what is not, what is covered in full and what is not, and 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 an in-network doctor will usually save you out-of-pocket costs. Your new primary care physician can also help you navigate ways to save on prescriptions, including switching to generic drugs whenever possible and reviewing your current medications to see if changes may be appropriate.

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. Primary care providers can also advise when new treatment options are available and when it is time to obtain consultation from a specialist.

“The best way to fight a disease is to prevent it from developing or having an early treatment and diagnosis,” said Tomasz Stankiewicz, DO, at McLaren South Side Medical Center.

Beyond preventive visits, such as annual physicals and immunizations, your primary care provider can serve as your family’s medical home, being there, working together with specialists and surgeons to treat the most serious medical problems.

“I tell my patients that finding a family doctor is similar to finding a spouse. It is someone that you can trust your life with, and they will never do you wrong,” said Dr. Stankiewicz. “It is a person that you can be honest with knowing that anything that you reveal about yourself will remain confidential. I want my patients to know that at our office, they are cared for and can turn to us for their medical needs, small and big.”

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

“One of the best things about being a family doctor is caring for families and getting to know them as a whole,” said Dr. Stankiewicz. “I also believe that by having family members as my patients, I have an advantage of being able to individualize care, whether that is screening for genetic disorders or knowing what medical problems run in the family.”

If you are meeting with a physician for the first time, be sure to come prepared. Unless your medication needs refrigeration or special storage, bring all of your medication bottles to your first appointment. Some offices will need you to complete paperwork prior to your first appointment. Make sure to call the office ahead of time to check if it can be picked up or mailed.  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. Be sure to make it a habit every year to evaluate the following to get the most benefits 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 an FSA, be sure to check if any unspent funds will roll over into the new year.

If you are seeking a new physician, McLaren Greater Lansing has providers accepting new patients within four to eight weeks, including Dr. Stankiewicz. To view the full list and schedule a new patient appointment, please visit