An allergist is a pediatric and/or internal medicine physician who has undergone at least two additional years of specialized training in Allergy & Immunology. Allergists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat patients who have asthma, allergies, and immunologic diseases. No other physician specialty has this level of expertise in treating patients with these conditions.
It usually takes at least nine years of training beyond a bachelor’s degree for a physician to become an Allergist/Immunologist. After completing medical school (usually 4 years) and graduating with a medical degree (either MD or DO in the U. S.), a physician planning to specialize in allergy/immunology must next undergo three or four years of residency training either in Internal Medicine (to become an Internist) or Pediatrics (to become a Pediatrician) or Med-Peds (which is a combination of both). Once this primary specialty training is completed, it is necessary for the Allergy/Immunology candidate to pass the certification exam of either the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or both.
To specialize in Allergy-Immunology, it is next necessary for the candidate to complete at least two additional years as a fellow in an accredited Allergy-Immunology training program. This qualifies the individual to sit for the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) certification exam. To be listed as ABAI-certified, it is necessary for the candidate to successfully pass the certifying examination. This demonstrates that the Allergist/Immunologist has the knowledge, skills, and experience required to provide high-quality care to patients with allergic and immunologic disorders.
What Board Certification Means
As described on the American Board of Medical Specialties website, “Specialty certification in the United States is a voluntary process. While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific. Board certification demonstrates a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice. Physicians who are committed to lifelong learning and continued expertise in their fields voluntarily participate with maintenance of certification status. This requires annual demonstration of knowledge with up to date specialty specific research and continued commitment to maintaining up to date expertise.
The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes 145 medical specialties and subspecialties and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology is the only recognized specialty that cares for patients with allergic and immunological diseases.
How much will the patient pay out-of-pocket? This depends on the:
What should you do?
Call your health insurance company and ask them the allowable fee for the specific CPT test code (CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology) for the tests you are interested in (see below). Again, it really does not matter what the fee is from the doctor’s office, what matters is what amount the insurance company allows.
New patient visit code/consultation code (99201-99205). There is a range in each category of a new patient visit. The code is chosen based on the complexity and the number of problems the patient presents with. You will be charged for one new patient code.
Allergy testing codes which may be performed. Contact your insurance for detailed cost per policy
Allergen immunotherapy extract and injection codes for allergy injection treatment:
Welcome! We are very pleased that you have chosen us to be a part of your health care team. As a new patient, you may wonder what to expect during your first visit to an allergist. While your initial office visit will vary depending upon your primary concerns and diagnoses, the following gives a brief description of a typical visit.
We kindly ask that you arrive at the office at least 15 minutes before your appointment time (or sooner if requested by the office staff) to complete a series of documents that will assist us with your care. A new patient packet will include requests for your personal information, such as name and address, insurance information, a financial form, HIPPA form, and perhaps other consent forms to share information with your insurance company and your other physician(s). You should remember to bring your insurance cards as well as a photo ID such as a driver’s license. Additionally, you will be asked to provide some medical information including your chief concern(s), past medical and surgical history, current medication, medication allergies, and similar information to assist the office staff and physician with your care.
Once this documentation has been completed and reviewed by our staff, you will be called back from the waiting room by a nurse or medical assistant to review your medical history and obtain your “vital signs” that include your height, weight, blood pressure, temperature heart rate, respiratory rate and possibly your oxygen saturation. All of this information is entered into our electronic medical records computer system by our staff to allow us to share this information with your primary care physician, referring physicians, and even you via our Patient Portal. You will then be escorted to an “exam room” by our staff before being seen by the physician.
The physician will take a detailed history with you, and then perform a physical exam that generally consists of listening to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope visualizing your eyes/ears/nose/throat with an otoscope and inspecting your skin and possibly evaluating other parts of your body depending upon your concerns and other medical conditions. These exams are generally painless and take but a few minutes to perform.
The physician may then order specific test, such as spirometry (i.e. breathing test), skin testing, patch testing, or laboratory studies, based upon your past history and chief concerns. Skin testing is a relatively painless procedure that identifies allergies and takes approximately 30-60 minutes to complete. While not painful, skin testing can cause some itchiness of your skin if you have significant allergies.