What is Family Medicine?
Family Medicine is the medical specialty that provides continuous and comprehensive health care for the individual and family. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system and every disease entity. Family physicians routinely diagnose and treat 90% of all patients they see, and then use specialists to consult on the remaining 10% of their patients.
In our medical delivery system in the United States, family medicine is usually the entry point into the increasingly complex health care system of specialists, hospitals, diagnostic labs and radiology centers. With most health insurance companies, a referral from a family practitioner or other primary care provider is necessary before a patient can access the offices of specialists.
To become a licensed specialist in Family Medicine in the United States, one must first complete an M.D. degree in an accredited medical school, which usually takes four years. The next step is to finish a specialty residency which usually takes three years. To get the Family Medicine Specialty Certification, one must pass a two day comprehensive test which measures competency in this broad specialty field. A version of this test is then repeated every seven years for the duration of one’s practice lifetime, if s/he desires to remain “Board Certified”. Family Medicine is one of a very few specialties that requires this periodic testing to ensure competency.
It is with great pride that at Bellevue Family Medicine, all three our our physicians are members of the AAFP and are currently all board certified in that specialty.
Here at Bellevue Family Medicine we have the privilege of offering both family physicians and nurse practitioners.
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice reg istered nurse who provides family health care similar to that provided by a general practitioner physician. They provide preventative health care and health education in addition to diagnosing and treating illnesses, injuries and other health conditions of individuals and families. A nurse practitioner must be licensed as a registered nurse. Candidates for certification as a nurse practitioner usually must hold a post graduate degree at the master’s or doctorate level.
Should I schedule a physical?
Do you want or think you need a physical?
We have a high demand for physicals and would like to help you schedule them in the most efficient manner possible.
What a physical IS:
•Physicals are a screening mechanism-a way to find disease that we may not know is there. At a physical appointment we will gather a thorough history:
•Family history to see what you may be at risk for;
•Lifestyle history to see if there are any ways you can improve diet and exercise to improve your quality of life;
•Immunization history to see if you are in the need of any vaccines;
•And a review of preventive measures to screen for various cancers and diseases.
What a physical is NOT:
•Your physical exam is NOT the time to address your various concerns, or identify and treat a particular problem. This requires a whole different battery of questions and a more targeted exam.
•Most insurance companies will no longer pay for both types of visits on the same day
•If you have a problem that needs evaluation, or several diagnoses that need monitoring, then we would like you to schedule a separate appointment for this purpose, so we can give it the attention it deserves.
Our nurse practitioners are particularly well trained to do a thorough screening physical, to recognize any abnormalities, and provider education on many issues.
The doctors and the nurse practitioners share offices, meet regularly, and discuss cases as needed. Our electronic medical record allows us as a group to better coordinate your care.
Finally, not everyone needs a physical every year (even though your insurance company may pay for it). When you do have your physical, make sure you plan with your provider for when you should get the next one.
I had an appointment last week and completely forgot about it. I just received a bill for a “No Show” fee. What is this?
Bellevue Family Medicine strictly enforces the NO SHOW policy. We ask that you cancel all appointments at least 24 hours in advance so that others suffering from illnesses can be seen. A $50.00 fee will be charged for all missed Physical and Surgery/Procedure appointments. A $25.00 fee will be charged for missed routine office visits.
I’m out of my medication. Who should I call for a refill?
We encourage you to be diligent about refilling medication. However, if your prescription bottle says ”zero refills”, it is probably time for you to make an appointment. We ask that you call your pharmacy to request a refill and we suggest you do so at least 5 days prior to running out of medication. The Pharmacist will fax us a copy ofthe medication last dispensed to you which will provide the dosage and directions of your medication. This allows our nursing and provider staff to safely evaluate your needs and determine if we should see you in the office to further evaluate your treatment. If you have mail order service or require a hand written prescription, please notify our office 72 hours in advance.
I had a mole removed and my insurance company didn’t cover the procedure. Why didn’t my doctor tell me this was a non-covered service?
With all the insurance companies and plans available to patients, it is completely impossible for our office to be up to date on your coverage. It is your responsibility, as the patient, to educate yourself as to what benefits are available to you. We encourage you to read your benefits booklet and talk with your benefit coordinator.
I was in a motor vehicle accident. Why am I required to pay for my visit up front even if I have medical or vehicle insurance?
Bellevue Family Medicine is not contracted and has no collection recourse with third party payers (Pemco, Allstate, State Farm etc) These companies may withhold payment until the accident claim is settled. Therefore, payment is required at the time of service and reimbursement from the third party payer is the responsibility of the patient.
Can you just bill me for my co-pay?
No. We are required by the insurance companies to collect your office visit co-pay at the time of service. This is also the patient’s obligation in having medical coverage. We accept Cash, personal checks, Visa and MasterCard for your convenience.
Why am I asked for my insurance card each and every time I present for care?
We ask to see your insurance card to ensure we have correct information with regards to billing your insurance. Should you present without your insurance card in hand, we will still see you for your illness. However, the visit will be charged as a Private Pay and you will be billed for the services until verification of coverage can be provided by you.
How do I change my PCP?
There is a customer service number listed on the front or back of your insurance card. Call this number and request the change effective immediately. The Managed Care plans will not “back date” your effective date so it is extremely important to take notice and take action. Once you have selected a PCP from our office, you can see any of our Physicians or Nurse Practitioners. The insurance companies recognize Bellevue Family Medicine as a “group”, which allows you more flexibility.
My insurance made a mistake when I signed up during open enrollment and assigned me a PCP I don’t know or see. Can I still be seen by my regular doctor?
No. Not until the PCP is changed. If it is not changed prior to your scheduled appointment, you will be responsible for the cost of the office visit.
Should I go to an Urgent Care/Walk-in Clinic?
As independent primary providers we recognize that our patients have many medical care choices available to them in the community. Our mission is to build long lasting provider-patient relationships, maintain continuity of care and practice high quality, affordable medicine.
While there are many neighborhood urgent care and free standing walk-in clinics, there are limitations in what they can offer you. Many lack resources like imaging and are often restricted in the scope of care they are allowed to provide. More importantly, they do not have access to your health history or medical records. This may in-turn disrupt the continuity of care and add unnecessary time and cost to you.
Unless you are faced with an emergency, please always check with your personal health provider before seeking care at one on these clinics.
What are your financial policies?
Bellevue Family Medicine participates in several insurance plans that we will bill directly for our patients. If we are not participating within your insurance plan, we will require payment at the time of service. We will gladly see you for your healthcare needs and supply you with the proper information so that you may bill your insurance company and seek reimbursement.
With all of the changes in healthcare, we would like to inform our patients that not everything is included under your “preventive care” benefits. If your provider performs additional tests or services during the same visit that are not covered under your preventive benefits, you may have to pay coinsurance, co-pay, or your deductible.
Motor Vehicle accidents and Private Paying patients are required to pay at the time of service.
We require you to present your insurance card at each and every office visit to ensure correct billing information. Co-pays are due at the time of service. We gladly accept cash, checks, Visa or MasterCard. You may also visit our patient portal to pay your bill online and answer insurance questions.