My wife and I received letters the other week from our primary care provider, Laurie. She’s not a doctor but rather a physician’s assistant. But her experience and caring manner mean everything to us as we navigate the system. She really knows both of us as people, as well as bones and flesh.

So we were crushed when Laurie’s letter informed us she was moving away and could no longer be our “doctor.” We had been “assigned” to Dr. C, someone new in the clinic.

Well, guess what, Dr. C may be great, but I feel jilted. I am happy for Laurie moving to a calmer, rural area, but I don’t take changing doctors lightly. Nor does my wife, Esther. So what do you do when you find yourself needing a new doc? I understand when you move to a new town you have no choice, but not when you are staying put. And do you accept the “assignment”? Give it a chance?

Not me. As I have already mentioned, I am a fan of e-mail correspondence with the doctor. It’s just more efficient, when it’s appropriate for a check-in or routine illness. So I am shopping for a doctor who will do that.

I may go back to my provider of years ago who was perfectly good, but not in the right HMO when our company switched insurance carriers. I ran into this old doctor of mine at an event the other night. For the past year or so, he and his partners have started charging their patients $25 a month for quick access to them on a routine basis. That means e-mails back and forth whenever you want, phone calls that are actually returned by the doctor promptly - you know, access to the doctor the way things were back when we older folks were kids. Sounds good to me.

Now, in this case, insurance won’t cover it. But I am thinking of drinking fewer lattes at Starbucks to fund my health relationship. Good investment? What’s your take on what do when your doctor moves?

As a side note: I ran into my friend Dan the other day at the dog park. He has MS, and he’s been a loyal fan of our MS Education Network for 10 years. He told me that his neurologist moved to a new practice recently. For Dan, it wasn’t even a question, he just moved with his doc.

Another friend Dave said that when his doctor moved, he moved with her. But he traded a warm and friendly office staff for bulldogs. He’s wondering which is better: a doctor he connects with, or an office staff that doesn’t create headaches and obstacles to care.

–Andrew