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3 benefits of a primary care provider

Primary care providers (PCPs) serve as a hub for your health and wellness needs, coordinating your care as issues arise. This person knows your medical history and care plan. They can connect you to various specialists when needed. 

However, many adults don't have a PCP. Research published in the Journals of American Medicine Association shows young people are even less likely to have one. Finding a regular provider might not feel like a priority – especially when you're feeling good – but primary care is important for everyone. 

Here are 3 benefits of a PCP and how to choose one that's right for you. 

1. They know you and your medical history.

If you go to a different convenience clinic or urgent care center every time you have a cold, those visits likely aren't captured in one medical record. 

You have to recount your personal and family medical history every time you see a new provider in a new office – often to a nurse and then again to the doctor. It's like when you apply for a job and give them your resume but then still have to enter your job history in a separate form. Frustrating, right? Your PCP's office always has your medical history – you just update it each visit. 

With all your information in one location, your PCP can look for patterns. And the more information they have, the more likely they can make an accurate assessment. Maybe those seasonal colds you get have something in common that points to a larger issue, for instance. PCPs can spot the signs early and begin any necessary treatment faster. 

2. They coordinate your care with other providers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of US adults live with at least 1 chronic condition. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung disease are some of the most common. 

These conditions need medication management, lifestyle changes, and specialist visits. Having more than 1 condition can make it challenging to keep track of what medications you're taking, what preventive steps you can take, and what specialists to see. 

Your PCP helps coordinate your care overall and can see you in between specialist visits, giving you more access to regular medical care. 

3. They focus on your daily wellness.

PCPs offer screenings to identify your risk for chronic conditions. They also counsel you on how to stay healthy, as well as treating you for minor illnesses. Young people should find a provider they like before they need ongoing medical care or medication management. 

Staying on top of your health with regular primary care visits can save you money in the long run. You may avoid developing certain chronic conditions, or better manage the conditions you have with PCP oversight. 

How to find a primary care provider

It's easy to put off choosing a provider. You're busy, and your local providers might have wait times. Perhaps it's simply daunting to search through a long list of names. But the benefits of finding a provider you feel comfortable with are worth it. Do some research on finding a PCP best suited for you. 

Keep in mind that a PCP can be a doctor trained in family medicine, internal medicine, osteopathy, general medicine, or pediatrics. Physician's assistants and nurse practitioners can also provide many of the services of a doctor, giving you more access to care. Some women rely on their OB/GYN as their PCP

Start looking by using your health plan's Find Care tool to find a provider in your network. You can read reviews and search the doctor's website to learn more about their care philosophy. You can also call the office to ask for doctors with specific expertise related to your health needs, such as LGBTQ+ care, mental health needs, or cancer survivors. 

The benefits of telehealth coverage have helped improve access to primary care, making it easier than ever to see a provider. With virtual visits, you save time from traveling to a doctor's office, and people living in rural areas can access a broader range of doctors. 

Establishing a relationship with a PCP benefits your overall health. Plus, most insurance plans cover preventive care from an in-network PCP. Search online, get referrals from friends, and make the effort to begin this relationship. 

Patricia Chaney

Patricia Chaney


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