Finding a New Care Team or Provider
We are all hopeful it never happens: finding a new care team.
But inevitably, at some point during our lives, we will have to find a new doctor or team of doctors. After all, we have a chronic illness, which means it is with us through all of the twists and turns of our lives.
Some people need to find a new care team when moving to another state. I’m in that boat right now.
Others might have a provider retire, move away, or go on maternity leave and never return to work, while others might experience a provider becoming ill themselves or leaving on disability.
Finding a new care team after relocating
Here’s what I’ve learned about finding new providers when moving cross-country and changing insurance plans.
Ask your doctor for recommendations
Have your current providers make recommendations and even introductions if they know providers in your new state or if someone within the practice can transfer your care. My rockstar gynecologist was able to recommend a gynecologist here in Colorado that has MIGS (minimally invasive gynecological surgery) training and some experience with advanced endometriosis. I’m on the waitlist and hoping to get an appointment before the year ends.
Similarly, if you find one provider you like and need to build an entirely new care team, see if that provider can give you recommendations of other providers they often work with and have a good relationship with.
Call your insurance and ask for a patient advocate or medical social worker
The woman I worked with at my current insurance was an invaluable source of support during an incredibly challenging time. She helped answer questions, research providers, and make calls to help me find new housing when I landed in Colorado.
I’ve emailed and talked on the phone with her many times during the last six months, and she was always willing to provide more support. After all, that’s her entire job!
Find support in your new area
Join Facebook groups for endo or other illnesses you have. If you’re moving, choose a group in the area where you’ll be moving.
I found a new allergist who could help me with mast cell activation syndrome because I joined a mast cell group on Facebook that was local to Colorado. The folks in these groups have already experienced the providers in the area and can give you honest feedback about their care. I also utilized a local LGBTQIA2S+ group to help me find queer and trans-friendly providers.
Find doctor reviews online
Utilize online review sites. I’ve often considered a doctor but then read a review that said the provider didn’t believe mast cell activation syndrome is real or that they only treat endo with birth control pills, or were homophobic or transphobic.
Visiting these sites helped me make informed decisions.
Make sure the provider is covered by your insurance
Make sure the doctor you hope to see is in network for your new insurance if you change plans. If they are not in network but are the provider you want to see, call your insurance plan or the provider’s office to find out the cost of visits so you aren’t surprised when you get your bill.
Take it as slowly as possible and be gentle with yourself
Losing a provider can feel as devastating as experiencing a death. You have put your trust and health into the hands of someone who has guided you through difficult times, and it isn’t easy to switch to someone else.
You may experience grief, procrastination around making calls and writing emails to find a new provider, anger that you had to stop seeing your old provider, and other emotions. They are all valid and normal. You may be disappointed in the new provider you’ve found because they aren’t like your former provider.
Take your time to get to know them as best you can and if your new person truly isn’t working out, see who else you can find. In most cases, you don’t have to stick with the provider you’re seeing if it’s not working out unless they are the only accessible person in your area that provides the care you need.
Changing providers is not easy and comes with many hard emotions. But you might be surprised at how well things work out when you are working with a new provider or care team.
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