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Need a New Doctor? Experts Warn Against Using the Web to Make Decisions

HappyDR

Health Care open enrollment season is upon us, and that could mean a change in providers for some. Whether your company is changing plans, or you've decided to give another carrier a try, you may find your current doctor doesn't accept your new health insurance.

Where can you turn to find the right doc among the mass of unfamiliar names in your new providers list? Many are turning to the Internet to help make the choice. 

There are tons of Web sites that offer physician ratings and backgrounds, but experts warn against basing your decision solely on information found online. Research suggests although these sites can provide basic background information, they offer little indication of the actual level of care a doctor provides.

In addition, the American Medical Association (AMA) has been complaining about the unfairness and inaccuracy of rating systems for years. One study showed the system health plans use to show how providers control costs were wrong 66 percent of the time.

But experts say it can't hurt to do some research online. You can check the status and disciplinary history of any doctor with state licensing on the American Board of Medical Specialties (abms.org) for free. Word of mouth is also a good tool in finding the right doctor. Ask family and friends for recommendations, or even a current doctor.

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