Getting Care at Sharp

Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about receiving care at Sharp. If you have further questions or would like personalized assistance in selecting a San Diego physician affiliated with Sharp, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.


How do I find a doctor affiliated with Sharp?
You can find a doctor affiliated with Sharp in the following ways:

  • Use Sharp's Find a Doctor tool — Find a Doctor is a quick, easy-to-use online tool that allows you to search for San Diego doctors affiliated with Sharp.
  • Speak to a Physician Referral Nurse — Call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm. 

How do I access care from a Sharp doctor?
If you are already an existing patient with your doctor (you have already seen your doctor) simply call your doctor's office to make an appointment.

If you have already selected your doctor, but have not yet seen him or her:

  • Call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm
  • Call the doctor's office directly to make an appointment to receive medical care 

If you are new to Sharp HealthCare, you may first need to select a primary care physician (PCP) to act as your "personal" doctor, who will become familiar with your health history and coordinate all your health care. Doctors who specialize in family practice, internal medicine, general practice and pediatrics are considered primary care physicians. Some OBGYNs are also considered primary care PCPs.

If you have further questions about primary care, please call the member service department of your insurance or health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

How do I know if Sharp accepts my insurance plan?
Sharp accepts most health insurance. View plans accepted at Sharp.

If you do not have insurance, we invite you to sign up for Sharp Health Plan, which offers a variety of health insurance options for individuals, families and businesses.

What is a specialty?
A specialty is a particular, focused field of medicine. A specialist is a doctor who cares for patients who have a particular set of diseases or conditions associated with that specialty. For example, a dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the skin, hair and nails.

Before seeking care from a specialist, be sure to check with your health plan to see if you need a referral from your primary care physician. The phone number for the member service department of your health plan is usually on the back of your insurance card.

What is a primary care physician?
This is your "personal" physician, who is familiar with your health history and coordinates all your health care. Primary care physicians usually specialize in family practice, internal medicine, general practice or pediatrics. Some OBGYNs are also considered primary care physicians.

With HMO plans, if you need a specialist, your primary care physician will refer you and keep in contact with your specialist to ensure continuity of your care.

If you have further questions about primary care, please call the member service department of your insurance or health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

Can I change my primary care physician? Who do I call to change my primary care physician?
Yes. While it is a good idea to stay with a primary care physician so he or she can really get to know your health needs and history, it is most important that you have a primary care physician whom you trust, are comfortable with and is conveniently located for you.

If you need to change your primary care physician, use our Find a Doctor tool to select your new primary care physician. Then, call the member services department of your insurance or health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

The doctor I selected isn't taking new patients. What do I do?
For help, call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm. The physician referral nurses at 82-SHARP can contact the doctor's offices for you to confirm that the doctor you select is accepting new patients.

When can I see my new doctor?
If you just enrolled with a new insurance or health plan and chose a primary care physician, you can see your doctor as soon as your coverage becomes effective.

If you changed medical groups, make sure your appointment with your new primary care physician is on or after your effective date with your new medical group. For information about your effective date, contact the member services department of your health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

There are three ways you can make an appointment to see your new doctor:

  1. Call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm, for help making an appointment.
  2. Call the doctor's office directly to make an appointment to receive medical care.
  3. Request an appointment online (for Sharp Rees-Stealy patients only at this time).

If you need to see a specialist, your insurance or medical group may have specific guidelines regarding authorizing referrals to see a specialist. Please call the member service department of your insurance or health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

What should I take to my first appointment?
Your doctor will need some background information about your health, so it's best to bring as much medical information as possible, including, but not limited to:

  • Medical records
    If you are undergoing treatment at the time you change doctors, your medical records are invaluable to your new doctor.

  • Medications
    Prescription AND over-the-counter medications, including any herbal/naturopathic medications you take. Your doctor will want to know the name of the medication, the dosage, how often you take it and why you take it.

  • Special needs
    Make a list of any equipment or devices you use, including wheelchairs, oxygen and hospital beds, as well as glucose monitors and the glucose strips. Your doctor should also know about how you use the equipment and devices, not only to make sure you have the equipment you medically need, but also to make sure that there is no disruption in your care.

  • Your insurance card
    Your insurance company generally does not provide your doctor with your insurance information, so providing your card to the office gives them the information they need about copays, where to send bills and customer service information about your benefits.

Can I see a specialist directly, without a referral from my primary care physician?
Yes, in some cases. Some health plans allow women to have direct and unlimited access to participating OBGYNs within their primary care physician's medical group for all obstetrical and/or gynecological services. In addition, some medical groups offer direct access to other types of specialists, such as allergists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists. In addition, some health plans such as PPOs offer direct access to all specialists.

If you have further questions about your health plan, please call the member service department of your insurance or health plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.

What is a Sharp-affiliated medical group?
A medical group is a network of doctors who have agreed to work together to contract with health plans and to coordinate the care of the medical group's patients. Therefore, when you choose a medical group, you are choosing the specific group of doctors who will provide your care from primary care physicians to specialists.

If you have further questions, visit Sharp Medical Groups to learn about Sharp's two affiliated medical groups.

What should I do if my insurance or health plan isn't listed on the Find a Doctor tool?
Sharp HealthCare accepts a wide range of health plans and health care insurances. If you cannot locate your insurance or health plan in the Find a Doctor tool, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.

What if the doctor I selected doesn't accept my insurance or health plan?
First, verify with the doctor's office that he or she doesn't accept your insurance, as the doctor may be in the process of updating insurances or health plans. Call the doctor's office directly or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.

If the doctor does not accept your insurance or health plan, locate another doctor in the Find a Doctor tool that does accept your insurance and meets your other criteria.