The importance of medical directories for poor patients is a question of access. Healthcare access has been an ongoing problem for many of the poor in the US. Because they are not covered by government health insurance, and cannot afford private insurance unless an employer provides it, many are uninsured. As a consequence, few have regular doctors and would be hard put to find one at a pinch. This is where medical directories can be of significant help.
Medical directories provide a list of physicians, their licenses, their specialties, their location, health insurance and contact information. Many areas in the US have a scarcity of doctors, and medical directories help poor patients to find one who can help them with their health problems easier than to go to a hospital and seek a referral. This can lead to significant savings.
Moreover, since medical directories provide contact information, poor patients can inquire about a doctor’s availability to new patients, rates and health management affiliations without having to go there personally. They can also inquire about payment terms or healthcare packages should one be necessary if the doctor is not accredited with the health insurance in question, or perhaps ask for a referral. In many cases, inquiries with a doctor’s clinic can lead to referrals to a community health center or perhaps information about eligibility for some type of public health program.
Medical directories also ensure that poor patients are consulting with a state-licensed doctor in good standing, and that they are the right doctor to go to regarding their health concern. For example, if there is a need for prenatal care, then a listing for obstetricians would be very helpful. Pregnant women, moreover, are covered under Medicaid provided they qualify income-wise. They could then be referred to a clinic that has Medicaid accreditation.
For poor patients who may have some health coverage in some form, knowing which doctors in the area who are accredited with a specific health insurance can narrow the list of possible candidates significantly. Most health insurance companies have their own medical directory of accredited physicians, but if they don’t then a general medical directory would be the alternative. There are several websites that provide this information for free, and may even improve the chances of poor patients of finding the most affordable competent doctor in the area. This is not as easy as it may sound; there is a shortage of competent medical practitioners in many rural areas in the US, and may sometimes require travel of long distances that many poor patients may not afford to do lightly. Medical directories eliminate many of the unknowns in the search for a physician for poor patients.
When poor patients need medical attention, they can’t afford a mistake in finding their physician. Medical directories provide information that can minimize the costs to the patient in many ways, and may even provide a way to find some sort of coverage for those who are eligible and cannot pay for private healthcare.