Have you wondered how you will take time off of work to help your child? What about how far you might need to travel for medical help? Will you have the correct specialist near you?
Your journey to determine what is wrong with your child has been difficult. On top of the suffering at home, you have to figure out how to access healthcare.
What specialty is correct for your child? You need to find a pediatric version of that specialty. You need to find a doctor that will accept your child. You will need to find a practice that is within an affordable traveling distance for your family. You will need to find a doctor who takes you seriously and that you trust with your child’s future.
These are all big points to think about when trying to handle your child’s condition. Some cities, towns and villages in the U.S. have a plethora of physicians, specialties, and options. Other areas are lacking. The topic of accessing healthcare for all ages, races, locations and conditions has been a hot topic for decades in this country.
In rural locations, the drive and cost to access the correct type of physician may overwhelm residents on fixed incomes. Maybe they just don’t make enough to take time off to travel to the correct physician. There may not be a local physician for a referral to a specialist to occur. Only 87 percent of people in the U.S. have a regular healthcare provider.
Health insurance, or lack of, also prevents people from accessing proper care. Without insurance, out of pocket expenses to treat special medical conditions is extreme. Over five percent of people in the U.S. do not seek medical care for conditions because of this. About 52 percent of unemployed people do not have health insurance. That is compared to only 19 percent of employed persons. These statistics are just for access to care. It doesn’t include the cost of medication after a visit. Many conditions require regular medicine use. That means a monthly prescription will need to be filled. If there is no insurance, the cost is out of pocket. Even with insurance, co-pays, and other costs can financially end a family.
Depending on what is wrong with your child you may face one or more of these challenges.
What can we do and where do we start?
Tip 1: Start with locating a reliable pediatrician or family general practitioner.
This is the first step in getting the type of healthcare to help your child get answers and treatment. This can be a very difficult thing. Some practices are large, or some might be only a single physician. From experience, I have worked my way through many pediatricians. Some we saw multiple times to get them to see what we saw. We have switched pediatrician offices three times in his five years of life. You keep trying until you find the right fit or get the answers you need.
Tip 2: Do your research on specialists in your area.
If you have worked your way through my book How To Get A Diagnosis, you built a health history and journal for your child. You have done your own research and taken notes. You have narrowed down your research to a few key areas of your child’s health. You will have developed a working theory of 1-3 different diagnosis. Look up the condition and determine the specialist that would treat it. Once you know what type of physician you are looking for, expand your search to affordable surrounding areas that provide access to this physician.
Hopefully, you got lucky and your pediatrician tells you the type of specialist you need. Hopefully, they have a personal referral ready for you of someone they trust and know can help you. It also can’t hurt to read up and check into the referral physician they recommend. Know where your child is going and what types of conditions this doctor treats.
Tip 3: Calculate what you can afford, and how far you are willing to travel
You might already know that accessing a specialist might be challenging for you. If you know this, it’s time to start thinking about how far are you willing to go for your child. What can you financially afford?
Determining a budget for healthcare is responsible. Although it may feel depressing and frustrating, it is another household expense and needs to be considered.
Working in the cost of prescriptions is also part of this budget. If you can set a budget now you can start saving. Plan for your journey to a diagnosis to take at least 6 months to a year.
Tip 4: Have a backup plan for physicians and obstacles.
There are so many things that can come up in this process. One thing to consider is the first specialist you see might not be the right fit. They might not be the correct physician for your child’s condition. You may need to search for another specialist.
You may receive opposition from your pediatrician if you don’t like their referral. You might not get an appointment when you request and might get put off. What will you do if this happens?
One option may be to video a session with your child documenting their condition and any visible signs of illness that are present at the time. Have your child describe their problems. If your child doesn’t want to speak, you can video and share on their part. You can then share this with a physician when you finally get the appointment you need.
You may need to ask for a referral to a different specialist as well. You might need to change routes to get an answer. Instead of focusing on what you believe to be the answer, you might need to work backward. You may need to find one symptom that seems to relate to an organ in the body and see a specialist just for that symptom. The hope is this specialist eliminates the symptom for that system. They can treat the organ. They might help refer you to the correct physician to address the underlying condition.
What happens if you can’t afford to travel and your current location is not ideal to help your child?
If transportation is the issue, you might want to look at local medical transports for your area. They might be available to help on any income to get you and your child to an appointment.
Public assistance programs through the state or county that you live in (or both) may help cover medical expenses. There are always things like a benefit to help raise money for your family as well. Public assistance programs are important to help you get answers, especially if you have lower income.
Access to the correct type of healthcare continues to be a real problem in our country. We have a wealthy nation that is vast and large but still remains inaccessible to some families. A bit of planning, saving and some assistance might help you work toward an answer.
What do you do to prepare for accessing healthcare?