For Millennials and younger age groups, the idea of having a primary care physician or PCP can feel outdated. Because of insurance restraints or a lack of insurance, many Millennials don’t have a medical provider who becomes their go-to person. They don’t have someone they can call with routine issues or a doctor or health care provider who can refer them to specialists.

If you don’t have a PCP, it could eventually have a negative effect on your health and quality of life. PCPs, according to providers like Hillcroft Physicians in Houston, help organize care across all the elements of the larger system. For example, PCPs can help organize and coordinate specialty care, community services, and hospital care.

The following is a guide to what you should know about having a primary care doctor and how to go about finding the right provider.

Why You Need a Primary Care Physician

Everyone, no matter their age or general health, will need medical care at some point in their life. It’s inevitable. If you have a chronic illness, diagnosed or undiagnosed, you’re also going to need someone who can help balance all of your treatments.

A primary care physician is a generalist seeing adult patients. You go to a PCP to manage common conditions such as headaches, urinary infections, or respiratory infections. These providers help manage chronic conditions like obesity, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Generalists, which is what a PCP will be, have a broad sense of conditions and treatments.They’re also someone who can communicate with specialists and coordinate care among other providers and with the families of patients.

Adults who have a primary care provider, according to research, are more likely to have routine preventative visits and to fill more prescriptions. The same research found that people with PCPs were more likely to receive what’s described as high-value care, including cancer screenings like colorectal screenings.

Benefits of working with primary care doctors include:

  • You’ll stay healthier and may even live a longer life. A 10-year study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School found having more access to primary care was directly linked to a longer life expectancy. The two main reasons this seems to be true include the management of chronic conditions and the preventative care primary doctors provide. Preventative care includes annual checkups, immunizations and boosters, cervical and breast cancer screenings for women, and prostate screenings for men. Colorectal screenings for both men and women are also important in preventative care.
  • If you have a primary care doctor, you could lower your health care costs. Preventative care is strongly associated with lower care and better health in general. Many preventative services, as a result, are covered by insurance, frequently with no required copay.
  • Working with a primary care doctor can help you save time. They can take care of various needs in a single visit.
  • Your primary care physician can guide you through the larger health system when you need specialized care. Otherwise, navigating this complex world can feel overwhelming. Your primary provider can make sure you’re connected to the right specialist. They’ll coordinate with specialists to ensure the correct information is shared and that no duplicate testing is carried out.
  • If you have a good relationship with a provider you trust, they can serve as your health advocate. Your primary doctor can get to know you and understand your health needs over the long term. You don’t have to start from scratch every time you see them.

How to Find the Right PCP For You

If you’re looking for a primary care doctor, the following are things you should consider.

Know What You Want

It sounds simple, but many people go into the doctor search without knowing what’s important to them. For example, do you prefer a male or female doctor? How far are you willing to drive, and is there any certain condition you want the doctor to have experience treating?

There are also a few different types of primary care providers. For example, a family practitioner or family doctor provides care to people of any age.

Internists specialize in internal medicine, and they can care for adults of any age. A gynecologist is a PCP specializing in gynecological medicine, and these doctors primarily provide care to women.

Check Your Insurance

You’ll need to check with your insurance provider to figure out what PCPs will be covered before making an initial appointment. Your insurance provider might be able to provide you with a list of potential primary care providers that you can choose from.

Plan For Your First Appointment

After you’ve decided on a doctor you’d like to talk to, or maybe you have a list of a few, you’ll set up an initial appointment. Pay attention to how the office staff treats you on the phone.

Then, you can set an appointment where you learn a little more about the doctor’s personality and how you interact with one another. You can ask about their specialty areas and how they handle patient care.

When you meet a provider, you want to think about how you felt talking to them. How do you feel about leaving the appointment? Do you feel reassured or like they were rushing you or not interested in what you were saying? What tone did they speak to you in? If you have a certain condition, you want to make sure it’s something the PCP has experience in.

Finally, you want to feel like you speak the same “language” as the doctor. You need to have an open, honest and comfortable relationship. If you feel like the doctor was dismissing you or didn’t explain things in a way that you could understand, it’s probably time to go back to your list and talk to someone else.

Your healthcare is of the utmost importance, and a PCP can be a great resource, but only if you choose the best fit for your needs and preferences.