The Importance of Primary Care Physicians for All Ages and How to Choose One

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Your family’s primary care physicians are your home base for medical care. From the pediatrician you take your children to to the primary care physician you see yourself, the family health care providers in your network should be your go-to resource for any and all medical needs. As such, the availability of local primary care providers should be an important factor when trying to choose your insurance for family care.

The Importance of Primary Care Physicians for All Family Members

Primary care physicians aren’t just for children or when you’re sick. Everyone, young and old, healthy and ill, should make regular visits to his or her primary care physician a priority. According to researchers with the Journal of Health Affairs, patients who have a standing relationship with a primary care physician experienced higher satisfaction with their care, better chronic disease management, and lower overall healthcare costs. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey of 2009 reported the average expense for a visit to the emergency room was $1,318. A primary care physician would cost far less.

Your primary care physician is meant to be the coordinator of your medical care. Through your primary care physician, you gain access to a wide range of healthcare services from preventative care (those annual checkups you thought were only for kids) to specialists and acute care. Rather than receiving care in the hallway of an overbooked emergency department – - 78% of emergency departments reported being forced to admit patients in hallways and other spaces due to overcrowding in 2009 – - you could meet a familiar and friendly face in your primary care physicians office.

Many are hesitant to rely on primary care physicians out of the concern that he won’t be available. It’s true that you may have to wait for an appointment with your primary care physician, but that shouldn’t deter you from building a relationship with him in non-emergency situations. To meet the growing need, the U.S. will have to add nearly 52,000 primary care physicians by 2025. In the meantime, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are there to step in when needed. Likewise, urgent care facilities provide non-emergency care when your physician is unavailable. A walk in health clinic can be as accessible as the ER but for a fraction of the cost.

Finding a primary care physician based on your insurance for family care coverage

Ensuring your doctor is in-network for your insurance for family care provider is important to keeping your costs low. Most insurance for family care providers will have a list of in-network hospitals and doctors for you to choose from. If you have a physician you already work with, you can call your insurance provider to determine if he or she is in-network.

Along with the list of in-network healthcare providers, you often have the option to conduct a primary care physician search based on location, specialty, or individual characteristics such as gender, languages spoken, and ethnicity. There are three main specialties adult primary care physicians are identified by: Family practice, internal medicine, and general practice.

General practice – These physicians treat patients of all ages and genders. Within general practice physicians, you may find more specialized practitioners such as osteopaths who practice a form of alternative medicine that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. An osteopath doctor is distinguished by D.O. instead of M.D. following his name.

Family practice – Also physicians who treat all ages and genders, these doctors treat a wide array of ailments. Even ailments you may normally consult a specialist for can likely be addressed by your family practice physician instead.

Internal medicine – These physicians typically treat only adults. They specialize in prevention, diagnosis, and management of diseases and chronic conditions.

Once you’ve identified a few doctors who meet your needs and are in-network for your insurance for family care provider, search for reviews to see what other patients are saying about them. Also take into consideration their location and ease of access. Today, almost 30% of primary care physicians offer after-hours care. Whatever your needs and preferences, there is a primary care physician ready and able to meet them.

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