Many people in our community now have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, either through Medicaid or an insurance plan. If you’re one of these people, you may be shopping for a doctor.

Choosing a new physician can be difficult, but knowing your needs will go a long way toward helping you find the right doctor for you and your family.

There’s one key thing to remember before you start: Your insurance plan may restrict your choices to certain doctors approved by the plan. So check the terms of your insurance coverage and get a list of doctors in your plan to begin your search. Then, ask family, friends and coworkers who they might recommend in the community.

Think about the things that are important to you in your health care provider – how many years in practice, location, evening or weekend hours. When you’ve narrowed your choices, make a list of questions to ask when you meet with the doctor for the first time.

• What is the doctor’s philosophy of medicine?

• Does the physician frequently refer patients to specialists or does he or she prefer to manage most of your care?

• Is it a solo or group practice? If group, how often will you see other doctors in the practice, and are you comfortable with being seen by one of the practice partners?

• Are calls for routine questions encouraged? And how promptly can you expect a return call?

• What is the standard waiting time for an appointment?

• Is the office staff friendly and courteous?

Review your visit when you return home. Did you like the doctor’s communication style? Does the doctor’s personality – outgoing or quiet, a good listener – suit you?

Your relationship with your primary care providers is a very personal one. People look for different things in a doctor, and taking the time to find out more about a physician in advance can help you determine if it’s a good match – for you and your family.