If you're ready to make the commitment, Dr. Oz says it's time for Step 1 on his 2009 Ultimate Health Checklist: Find a doctor and schedule a checkup.
"People who have doctors live longer, and they live better," he says. "If you don't have a doc, it's like going into dock with a big ship without a captain on board. You end up smacking into the wall of the dock, and you cause more problems that you can't fix down the road."
What to look for when you're looking for a doctor.
Dr. Oz says there are state and federal programs designed to help you find a doctor, but the key is to choose the right physician. During your first visit, Dr. Oz says there are key questions to consider. "When you go to their office, do the other patients … look like you? Are they board certified? Do they get along with the staff?" he says. "If you get along with them, that person becomes your health coach. Because, remember, the word doctor means teacher, so it's a two-way street. If you come up with the right person, you're on the right path."
Even if you're one of 50 million Americans without health insurance, Dr. Oz says it's important to take this step. "There are free clinics. There are community health plans. If you really don't have enough money to afford a doctor, usually you'll qualify for Medicaid," he says. "But … I don't want to let people off the hook either. Half the people in America who don't have health insurance have some money. They just make the economic decision to not buy it because it's so expensive."
Dr. Oz says it's important not to sacrifice your health to save money. "You can get access to a physician. Go to their office. Talk to them. They'll work something out with you," he says. "We're trained to heal. Give us a chance."