Pediatricians are general physicians for children usually up to the age of 18. They care for newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school age children and teenagers. Pediatricians provide a wide range of preventive care: they follow the growth and development of children to make sure they are reaching their milestones, perform annual checkups and ensure children are up-to-date with their immunization. They also treat children for conditions ranging from rashes to respiratory infections to attention deficit – hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Here are 3 things consumers need to know about Pediatricians:
- It is helpful to find a pediatrician that is part of a group practice of 2, 3 or more pediatricians. When pediatricians practice as a group, they often have more flexibility in their schedules for taking last-minute sick visit—and most sick visits for children are last minute. Pediatricians in a group practice also tend to have more evening and weekend hours as well—as children frequently get sick other than Monday – Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Pediatricians in group practices also often have a nurse call-in line and a doctor call-in line so that if your child is an established patient, you can discuss the situation over the phone (sometime for free or just $10). The doctor may be able to just call in a prescription to your local pharmacy so you don’t even have to go in for a visit. This is especially helpful if you have multiple children and/or working and have to juggle many schedules.
- There can be some billing confusion on whether a visit is a preventive visit covered at 100% by your insurance ($0 cost to you) OR a sick visit where you will need to pay an office visit copay (typically $10 – $25) or the pay the full amount of the visit (typically around $80). If you take your child in for their annual physical and their vaccinations, that visit should most likely be preventive and covered at 100% by your insurance. If you take in your child for a fever and cough, that is a sick visit and you will have to pay. However, if you take in your child for their annual physical and you want to discuss a certain medical problem or your child is actually sick on the date of their physical (as children are frequently sick, this does happen), then that visit may be coded by the pediatricians office as a sick visit and not as a preventive visit—so be prepared to pay.
- Most of the conditions that pediatricians see can be treated with generic medications. There are many generic (1) antibiotics (e.g. amoxicillin, azithromycin), (2) diaper creams (e.g. nystatin, triamcinolone), (3) allergy medications (e.g. loratadine, cetirizine) even (4) ADHD medications (e.g. methylphenidate, amphetamine-dexamphetamine). Most of these generic medications cost less than $10. However brand name medications in these categories can cost over $120. So if your child is prescribed a medication, ask the pediatrician if it is a generic. If the answer is ‘No,’ ask if there is a similar medication that treats the same condition that is available in a generic. The answer to that question is frequently ‘Yes’ and you will saved over $110 without sacrificing the quality of your child’s care.