Article at a Glance

  • Get organized ahead of time so that everything is already taken care of in case of an emergency.
  • When picking your health insurance, think about what your family’s medical needs are.
  • Take the time to find a primary care pediatrician with whom you can develop a long-term relationship of trust.
  • Don’t skip well-child visits or immunizations; they are a very important part of your child’s overall health.

Going to see the doctor seemed so simple when you were a child. But parents know that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes—things like picking the right insurance, knowing what your insurance covers, and how to find a good pediatrician.

The best time to make these decisions is before your child gets sick or hurt. That way you can take the time to research and make the best choices. The last thing parents want to worry about when their child is sick is if their insurance is going to cover a procedure or needing to get to know their pediatrician for the first time. Settling things beforehand can allow you to focus on what’s most important—your child.

If you are confused or have questions about how to navigate the healthcare system, here are some things you should think about.

1. Finding the right health insurance for your family

Your health insurance plays a big role in which doctors you can see and what kind of procedures and appointments are covered.

When picking your coverage, sit down and think about the types of things you usually go to the doctor for. For children, you will want a plan that covers routine well-child visits and vaccines since they play such an important role in your child’s health.

If your child has a chronic condition that requires extra visits or medication, you will want to make sure your insurance covers it. You can’t anticipate accidents or future health problems, but you can be well prepared for the ones you know about.

2. Picking a primary care pediatrician

Having a primary care pediatrician allows you and your child to develop a long-term relationship with a qualified health care provider. This relationship will allow you to maintain a continuity of care that has several advantages.

Having a primary care pediatrician:

  • Makes it easy to maintain complete and accurate records of growth, development, testing, medications, and immunizations.
  • Helps you and your child develop a relationship of trust with your pediatrician, making it easier to ask questions and to share information.
  • Allows you to easily develop a plan for follow-up care when needed.
  • Means your pediatrician will be aware of any past health problems or special situations in your home.

The better your pediatrician knows your child and your family, the better he or she will be able to spot any potential problems and assess whether your child is developing normally.

3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

One of the most important things a parent can do for their child’s health is to keep on top of immunizations and well-child visits.

Regular well-child visits provide an invaluable look at your child’s health over the long term. This allows your pediatrician to monitor your child’s development and catch any emerging health problems. Without these regular visits, your pediatrician might not catch a problem until it is too late to treat effectively.
With health issues, early detection can make a big difference.

During your visit, your pediatrician will also make sure your child is up to date on immunizations. A study by the CDC showed that the implementation of routine childhood immunizations has caused the largest decline ever of some of the most devastating diseases in the United States. Diseases that once killed and maimed children are now highly preventable. However, these diseases are not totally eradicated. Many are still very prevalent in other countries and could easily return to the United States if immunization rates fall.

4. Knowing when to take your child to see a doctor

In many cases receiving early medical treatment can keep a small problem from turning into a big emergency. However, without any medical training it can be hard to determine if an injury or illness requires a visit to the doctor. Luckily, it isn’t hard to get the help you need.

If you are wondering whether or not your child should be seen, you can call your pediatrician’s main office number to talk to the nurse. We also have somebody on call 24/7 every evening, weekend, or holiday.

You can also consult the “Is Your Child Sick?” section on our website. This tool can help you determine how sick your child is and whether or not you need to call the doctor. If it is safe to treat your child at home, the tool offers some helpful tips.

However, if you have a medical or psychiatric emergency, you will want to immediately call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

5. Checking your sources

There is some much information available to us through the Internet. Parents who have questions can find hundreds of articles on related topics. In addition, things like online support groups can be invaluable for parents who are struggling with how to help children with chronic health problems or who need some parenting advice. However, not all the information on the Internet is appropriate for your child or reliable.

Our bodies are complicated and it is important to have a doctor look at past medical history and current medications before prescribing a treatment. Before acting on any medical advice, be sure to check with your pediatrician first. They are there to help you determine whether or not the information is accurate or suitable for your child.

You can also find reliable articles on a variety of topics on our website.

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Understanding how to make the healthcare system work for your family

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