Primary Care Physician

If your health insurance is considered a managed health care plan or HMO, you have probably been asked to choose a primary care physician. But what exactly is a primary care physician?

Who are Primary Care Physicians?

Primary care physicians (or primary care doctors) are your first line of defense against medical problems. Generally, your HMO will require that you see a primary care physician in order to get a referral to a specialist, or to recommend any special procedures such as lab work or X-rays. In many ways, your primary care doctor is a “gatekeeper” for other, more specialized health services. In an HMO or PPO, you will be asked to chose a primary care physician when you start coverage. This person will be the first doctor you go to for any medical issue.

A primary care physician can be a family practitioner or general practitioner. Internists are also often primary care providers. Pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists can also sometimes be a primary care physician,even though they specialize in the health of women and children. Each type of primary care physician can offer advantages, depending on your needs and the needs of your family.

When Should I See My Primary Care Physician?

The primary care physician manages patient care, diagnoses and treats minor injuries or illnesses, and can help you manage any chronic or long term conditions. You should also see your primary care physician for regular wellness check-ups and preventive screenings. It is considered good to establish and maintain a long term relationship with your primary care physician. That way, your doctor will be familiar with your medical history and lifestyle, and can help you develop a long term plan to maintain and improve your good health. So dont wait until you are sick to schedule an appointment with them. Regular check-ups are good for your health and also ensure that your primary physician knows your health history if and when more serious problems occur.