It’s common knowledge that dating in NYC is terrible. Less talked about, but equally as challenging, is finding a good Gynecologist. Take our lessons learned as 20-somethings in NYC and use them wherever you are!
Many New Yorkers report waiting 3 hours at an office or getting an astronomically high surprise bill two months after their visit. Part of New York’s charm is the diversity of its residents. Patients who are able to choose a doctor from their same gender and racial or ethnic background often feel more comfortable and confident in being honest about their health concerns and symptoms. So how do you find a doctor that’s a great fit for you?
You'll want to start by deciding what kind of doctor you need — a gynecologist, an obstetrician, or an OB-GYN.
A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system and focuses on care needs outside of pregnancy, which can include treating cysts, fibroids, or irregular periods.
An obstetrician is a doctor who specializes in the female reproductive system and focuses on pregnancy and childbirth.
An OB-GYN, or an obstetrician-gynecologist, is a medical doctor who is trained in both obstetrics and gynecology.
While all OB-GYNs are trained in both, some may choose to focus on one. Be sure to ask if you're hoping to see a doctor who handles prenatal care as well as annual exams.
Many patients who are not interested in becoming pregnant prefer to see a Gynecologist instead of an OB-GYN. In a combined practice (both OB and GYN), pregnant patients often receive priority given the time-sensitive nature of pregnancy. You may also have your appointment rescheduled or changed to another provider at the last minute as OB-GYNs can’t always predict when their patients will go into labor.
Once you’ve decided on the kind of doctor you need you’ll need to consider the cost.
The cost of your gynecologist appointment can vary based on:
It may seem difficult to find a way to see a gynecologist if you don't have insurance, but there are affordable and in some cases free options available. You should never go without seeing a gynecologist because you don't have insurance. This is the most important piece of advice we can give you.
If you do not have health insurance, you can use sites like Sesamecare or Mishe to compare physician’s rates. If you have your eye on a particular doctor not listed on these sites, you can always call and ask to see if they have “cash” or “Self-pay” rates available.
Many communities also have free or sliding-scale clinics, like Planned Parenthood, but you may experience long wait times and likely cannot choose a specific provider.
If you have health insurance, your plan likely offers a directory of providers who are in-network. These directories can be clunky to use, but are typically the most accurate predictors of coverage.
You can also leverage websites like Zocdoc, which allow you to search for doctors by specialty, location, and insurance plan.
It’s important to remember that just because a doctor’s office accepts your insurance, does not mean your services will be fully covered. Most insurance plans require you to pay a copay, a coinsurance, or a portion of the doctor’s listed price.
You may have heard of coinsurance and copays, but did you know that they might not be the same for a doctor visit? If you have health insurance, it’s definitely worth learning about how your plan works to save you money in the long run.
Coinsurance is when you pay a percentage of each medical expense, with your health insurance company covering the rest. If you have coinsurance at 20 percent, then you will pay 20 percent of the total bill while your insurance covers 80 percent.
Copays are when you pay a fixed amount each time you see the doctor or get medicine while your health insurance covers the rest. The fixed amount can differ based on whether it's an office visit or prescription medicine. For example, if your copay for an office visit is $20 and your copay for prescription medicine is $10, then that's what you'll end up paying each time—provided that office visits are covered by your plan in the first place.
Sometimes health insurance providers will charge a higher rate if you don't have their specific plan as part of an in-network discount program; if this happens to be one of them, then make sure to check beforehand so there are no unpleasant surprises later on!
In New York and other large cities, many doctor’s offices also charge membership fees.
When looking for a gynecologist, consider where you'll be most likely to use them. Is there a location near your home? Near your work? If not, what areas of NYC will you frequent the most? What is the best time of day or day of the week that works with your schedule? Do you prefer an early morning appointment before work or maybe one at lunchtime? You might even consider a Saturday appointment if that fits better into your schedule (this is especially helpful if they are located in an area with lots of weekend traffic).
Ideally, the relationship will last several years so it makes sense to choose a Gynecologist you can access easily and reliably. With that said, most patients only visit in-person once a year, so the office doesn’t necessarily have to be around the corner. Many practices also offer telehealth for questions or follow ups. This can add convenience and is often less expensive than an office visit.
Finding a doctor who shares your gender, ethnicity, or other traits may be important to you. While this is a matter of personal preference and comfort, it can also have health implications. Black women often experience disparities in quality of care and are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer. Because of this, many Black women choose to seek out a Black or minority physician.
Another way to approach this is to check a doctor or clinic’s website for a mission statement or practice philosophy. If they don’t take the time to call out their values, chances are it’s not a priority.
We also make a point to highlight that our team is diverse, trained against racial bias, and welcoming of trans and non-binary individuals.
Finding a doctor who fits your financial and logistical needs is important, but it doesn’t account for whether the doctor’s personality, treatment style, and specialization will be the right fit for you. With 80% of women reporting feeling unheard or dismissed by their doctor, this part is often the biggest challenge. Your OBGYN should be someone you feel comfortable with discussing the most personal aspects of your life, without fear of judgment or discrimination.
Your doctor should show interest in helping you maintain your health and wellness. A good gynecologist will be interested in the whole of who you are: your concerns, your history, and how they might affect your overall health. It's easy for a relationship with a gynecologist to devolve into a series of clinical checkups, so it's important that your doctor takes an interest in all aspects of who you are.
Healthcare has changed dramatically in the last few years. Digital health is rapidly becoming the new normal, presenting new benefits and challenges for patients. Read our article 5 Things You Need to Know about Digital Health for a crash course on what to look out for.