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Making Health Care Appointments

I have to go to a doctor’s office or clinic. What do I do?

You may be used to going to a clinic and waiting to be seen.

In the U.S., you usually must make an appointment. You will have to call the doctor’s office or the clinic to do this. They will give you an appointment time based on how sick you are.

What documents do I need to take with me?

Ask the doctor’s office or clinic what you will need to bring.

In general, the following documents may be needed.

If you have insurance:

  • Your insurance card or a Medicaid or FAMIS card
  • Photo identification (ID) - Examples: driver’s license, employment ID, school ID
  • Money, a checkbook or credit card for possible co-payment

If you do not have insurance:

  • Proof of employment or income, if you have it (Example: A pay statement)
  • Photo identification (ID) - Examples: driver’s license, employment ID, school ID
  • Proof of address (Example: a bill that shows your address, such as a gas or electric bill)
  • Money, a checkbook or credit card for possible payment

Many doctors and hospitals may ask for a social security number. You do not need to provide a social security number to doctors or private insurers.

Why do I have to make an appointment?

Doctors and nurses in the U.S. usually have only a set amount of time to be with a patient. They see another patient right before and right after they see you.

How long will my appointment be?

This will depend on why you are at the doctor. Appointments may be as short as 15 minutes.

Must I be on time?

It is important that you be on time for your appointment. If you are late, you may not be seen and you may have to pay a fee.

What should I say when I make the appointment?

Give your name and phone number. State your symptoms. (Say how you feel that is not right.) Say what insurance you have. Answer questions as well as you can.

It is important that I see a doctor who is the same gender as I am.

Most patients in the U.S. will see a doctor of either gender. But some U.S. patients will ask to see a man or woman in particular. You may want or need to get care from someone of the same gender as you. If so, ask for a male or female doctor when you make your appointment. Many offices will be familiar with this and try to help.

Will I have to fill out forms when I go to the doctor?

Most offices will ask you to fill out forms at your first visit.

The forms may ask about the following things:

  • Insurance or type of payment
  • Illnesses and injuries you had in the past
  • Current illnesses or injuries
  • Medicines you are taking
  • The forms may ask for your social security number. You do not need to give your social security number to doctors or private insurers.

What if I need help filling out the forms?

Tell the receptionist you need help. He or she will assist you or find someone who can. If the office is using an interpreter for you, the interpreter can assist by reading forms to you.

 


Last Updated: 04-01-2013

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