How to prepare for your next doctor’s appointment

It’s time for your doctor’s appointment. 

Whether you go once a year or once a month, there are certain things you should do to prepare. 

Make sure you have prepared a list of questions. Write them down. You may think you will remember everything you want to ask, but believe me, if I don’t write my questions down, I get home and realize I have forgotten to ask something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doctors love an engaged patient, and there are no silly questions when it comes to your health. 

You are the expert on “you” and no one knows your body better or when something isn’t quite right. Trust your instincts and be an active participant in your health care. If you don’t feel like you are being listened to, get a second opinion. 

Take a list of all your medications with you. Better yet, take your prescription bottles into the office, along with your over-the-counter medicines like vitamins and ibuprofen. Make sure your doctor knows all the medications you are taking and if there could be any interactions. Ask why you are on your medications in the first place. Confirm that you need an antibiotic for your illness. Ask if there is anything you need to avoid when taking your medications, like certain foods or sun exposure. 

Ask about your lab test and blood work results. Know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers and what they mean. 

Ask your doctor what resources he or she recommends so you can better learn about your medical condition. 

Ask about good websites to visit to educate yourself. 

Some questions I like to ask are, “What should I work on before I see you next time?” And “What kind of activity do you recommend for me?” 

Ask the best way to lose weight or how to begin an exercise program. You can even ask your doctor what he or she does to support their own personal wellness. 

Now that is thought-provoking! I wonder what answers you’ll get. 

Dr. Deb Esser, BCBSNE vice president of Medical Policy



The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.


A fixed amount you pay when you get a covered health service.

Tiered benefit plan

A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 


The annual amount you pay for covered health services before your insurance begins to pay.

emergency care services

Any covered services received in a hospital emergency room setting.


Includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy

in-network provider

A provider contracted by your insurance company to accept an agreed upon payment for covered services. 

OUT-OF-network provider

A term for providers that aren’t contracting with your insurance company. (Your out-of-pocket costs will tend to be more expensive if you go to an out-of-network provider.)


Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance, including deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.


If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you must have a health coverage exemption or pay a tax penalty on your federal income tax return.


The amount you pay to your health insurance company each month. 

Preventive services

Health care services that focus on the prevention of disease and health maintenance.


Services and devices to help you recover if you are injured or have surgery. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

special enrollment period

The time after the Open Enrollment Period when you can still purchase health insurance only if you have a qualifying life event (losing other health coverage, having a baby, getting married, moving).


A physician who has a majority of his or her practice in fields other than internal or general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or family practice.