LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- We are only days away from 2014, and in the New Year, thousands of Nevadans will start using new health insurance.
But with the first enrollment deadline only happening a few days ago, some won't have insurance cards yet. People can call for their insurance membership numbers through their carriers and even start making appointments.
For those who have never had health insurance that have signed up for new insurance through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, a great place to begin is with a primary care doctor.
Dr. Keith Brill, President of the Clark County Medical Society, says make sure the doctor is in the network of the provider chosen, or a patient may end up with a very large medical bill.
Then patients can start with preventive care.
"I think being a relatively small big city, word of mouth for providers is a good thing about who your friends may or may not trust," Brill said, "because getting a relationship is probably the most important thing."
From there, Brill says a doctor can get a better handle on the new patient's health and perhaps refer him or her to a specialist.
Prior to the availability of health insurance, many may have come to the emergency room for their healthcare needs. Now with insurance and depending on their health situation, maybe an Urgent Care center could be better.
"If someone is acutely ill, very often an Urgent Care center will be able to get them seen in a more efficient fashion than an emergency room," Brill said.
Health care providers, in the meantime, have been preparing for the unknown, fresh territory. they don't know how many people will seek care, and whether there will be enough doctors to handle the demand. Brill says doctors are being hired, and scheduling is becoming more flexible.
"A lot of doctors including my office are going to try to have same day appointments or we've heard about doctors having extended hours into the evening," Brill said.
Until the New Year arrives and the insurance becomes active, medical providers say they will be as ready as they can be and adjust accordingly.
Carriers offered through the Exchange are Nevada Health Coop; Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield; Health Plan of Nevada; and Saint Mary's, which is not here in Clark County.