How well do you know your doctor or better yet how well does your doctor know you? These are important questions to ask yourself when choosing a primary care physician. Finding the right Doctor for you plays a huge role in keeping you healthy. By visiting him/her for routine visits as recommended, your Primary Care Physician (PCP) will get to know you, your medical history and your lifestyle. If you have a medical issue, having a doctor who knows your health history often makes it easier and faster to get the care you need. A Primary care Physician offer patients a number of benefits including:
- Improved diagnoses – A PCP sees you regularly and is familiar with your health history so they are more likely to notice health changes. This often leads to better, more accurate diagnoses.
- Lower medical costs – Regularly visiting your PCP for in-network preventative care and urgent concerns helps you avoid costly visits to the emergency room and often means fewer medical visits overall.
- Staying healthier – From help managing chronic conditions to personalized recommendations, a PCP can help you improve your health.
- Trust – It’s natural to develop a relationship with a doctor that you see on a regular basis. This makes it easier to talk about private medical concerns.
- Referrals – Sometimes you need to see a specialist for more advanced care in a certain area; your PCP can refer you to the right specialist.
- Help managing chronic diseases – It’s difficult to manage a chronic disease on your own, but a PCP helps monitor chronic conditions. Staying organized and aware of the ways the condition is affecting your body helps you obtain better outcomes.
- Complete health history – Your health history helps doctors catch diseases earlier, provide better overall care or even prevent certain conditions. An ongoing relationship helps build a complete health history.
- Routine screenings – Regular screenings and tests help detect symptoms early while they are easier to treat and before they lead to debilitating health issues.
- Help navigating the healthcare system – Healthcare can be confusing and overwhelming for patients. Primary care physicians understand how the system works and help guide patients to the best care possible.
- Continuity – Seeing the same physician over a number of years gives you continuity of healthcare. This makes a PCP more likely to see how problems are related to or influence one another.
- Higher immunization rates – A PCP helps keep track of your immunization record so you can stay up-to-date.
Your age and medical conditions usually determine how often you should see your primary care physician. Patients with chronic medical conditions usually have to see their doctor more often. Routine/annual exams are recommended and usually covered at 100% with an in-network doctor. In addition to regular appointments, you can and should visit your PCP any time you’re concerned about your health. Most primary care physicians work to accommodate same day appointments for urgent, last-minute needs.
So What Should You Look For When Choosing a PCP?
- A physician in your health insurance network
- Someone recommended by family, friends or co-workers
- A convenient location, perhaps one close to your home or work
- Someone with whom you feel comfortable, who listens to you and cares about your well-being
One More Thing to Consider….
Sometimes getting sick is not convenient, so what do you do when you need care quickly and you are not sure where to go? Should you go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room?
An emergency is when a severe condition arises. It’s often a life or death situation. Good examples are heart attack symptoms, stroke, or a severe allergic reaction. For emergencies such as this, it is advised to go to the Emergency Room.
If you feel like your medical condition can’t wait until the next day, Urgent Care is the place to go. Urgent Care providers commonly diagnose and treat colds and coughs, ear infections, minor burns and cuts, rashes and other non-life threatening conditions.
For non-emergent needs, including checkups, screenings, care for common illnesses and immunizations visit your Primary Care Physician.
Cost of care can vary for these services. For a more extensive List and Cost Comparison, visit https://www.uhc.com/member-resources/know-your-care-options