When health care is a business, how do you know who you can trust?
Whether you’re starting a new job, moving or simply looking for a new medical provider, you want to make sure you’re covering your behind and your wallet. From dentists to massage therapists, BBB has tips to help you to spend smartly on health care.
Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, says it’s crucial for people to do their research before entrusting someone with their health.
“If you have to seek out your own medical service provider, you need to know what to look for,” she says. “Not only are people investing their money but they’re entrusting someone with their health.”
First, it is important to find out which services are covered under your provincial health care, what services are covered under your employer’s benefits and what will come out of your pocket. Alberta Health Care Insurance does cover most basic medical needs such as examinations, medically required surgery as well as consultations and other services.
However, services provided by a chiropractor, acupuncturist, licensed massage therapist, homeopath, naturopath, social worker, nutritionist or physicians’ assistant aren’t usually covered. For these and other services, your employer’s benefits may provide some additional coverage.
So when you’re spending out of pocket, how do you know you’re spending wisely?
BBB recommends the following tips when looking for a health care professional:
Ask for credentials. Some health care professionals are required to be registered members with certain associations. (i.e. Dentists must be registered with the Alberta Dental Association and College). Contact the organization to ensure the membership is valid and in good standing and if other licensing is required
Budget accordingly. Find out how much of the service is covered by your health insurance provider. If you need to pay out of your own pocket, make sure you are aware of the extra costs beforehand.
Ask around, but be realistic. Ask friends, family and co-workers who their health care practitioners are and how satisfied they are with the service and costs. Due to high demand for certain health care providers, it may be difficult to find one that is taking new patients while fitting all of your specific wants and needs.
Go for a consultation. Book an appointment with a health care professional you think might be a good fit. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and they respond to all of your questions and concerns. Ask what procedures are performed in their office and which procedures are referred out to another location.
Think about accessibility. Find a practitioner located near your home or workplace. Find out if their hours of operation work with your schedule and ask how far in advance you must schedule appointments.
Start your search with trust. Check out BBB Business Reviews for trustworthy health care businesses and professionals as well as licensing and other important information.
Filing a complaint. If you aren’t satisfied with the services provided by your clinic or doctor’s office, you can file a complaint with BBB. For matters pertaining specifically to your individual health care practitioner, you can file a complaint with the practitioner’s governing body.
For a complete list of services that are covered or not covered under Alberta Health Care Insurance, visit health.alberta.ca.
For more consumer tips, visit bbb.org.