3 Tips for Choosing a Primary Care Doctor
When it’s time to find a primary care doctor, how do you know which type of doctor you should be searching for? We’ll break it down and give you our top three tips on finding a doctor who can help keep you healthy and treat you when you’re sick.
A primary care doctor or Primary Care Physician (PCP) is a doctor who sees you for common medical problems, performs routine exams, and helps prevent or treat illness. Seeing the same doctor for most visits will help you establish a relationship that can improve your care—your primary care doctor will get to know you and your specific health needs, and you’ll have somewhere to go when you are sick.
But how do you choose a primary care doctor or PCP? And which type of doctors are PCPs, anyway? Consider these three factors when you’re ready to choose a primary care doctor for yourself or your family:
1. Find the best fit
- Think about which type of doctor is best for your needs—there are four main types of primary care doctors, and choosing the right one can depend on your age, gender, and health concerns:
- Family practice doctors – A family medicine doctor, also known as a general practitioner, can provide comprehensive medical care for people of all ages. If you want a one-stop-shop for the whole family, this can be a great option. These providers completed their residency in family medicine and can provide everything from prescriptions to Pap smears.
- Internal medicine doctors – A doctor who treats only adults, internal medicine physicians handle a broad range of illnesses and are equally qualified to provide preventive care. These providers dedicated much of their training to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases.
- Pediatricians – If you have a child or family member under 18, you’ll want to seek a pediatrician. These doctors specialize in childhood illnesses and preventive care for kids, such as immunizations and wellness checks.
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) – Some women choose an OB/GYN as a primary care doctor as opposed to a family practice physician. For many women, this is a great option to get all the care they need in one place.
It’s also worth considering seeing a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. These professionals can provide primary care services and prescriptions, and their services generally cost less than seeing a certified M.D.
2. Check with your health insurance plan
Whether you use a website search or call a service like SelectHealth Member Advocates, it pays to choose a doctor who is in your network. Use your ID card to identify your network name and consider the types described above to narrow down your options. Seeing a doctor who participates on your health plan (known as being “in-network”) will make sure you get the best price and coverage for any care you receive.
3. Convenience is key
Choose a doctor who is located near your home or office. By keeping it close to home, you’ll find it more convenient to make appointments, and you’ll be less likely to miss them or be late. Many people opt for a doctor near their workplace, so they can see a doctor on their lunch hour—but that may not be as helpful when you are home sick!
At SelectHealth, we get a lot of questions about choosing providers, and there’s more to explore on this topic, from choosing a doctor you can trust to finding the right specialist. Follow us on social media and let us know if you’d like to learn more about this topic.
Already a member? Learn more about choosing the right type of care.
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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.