Your Healthcare General Contractor

If you’ve ever been involved in a construction project, you know that a general contractor is essential to the process. They keep a “big-picture” view of your project, make sure problems are addressed quickly, and regularly check on progress. It’s pretty much the same with a primary care provider.

Having a solid relationship with a primary care provider means you have someone you can see quickly when you’re sick, not to mention they already know your overall health. You’re also more likely to get an annual checkup and preventive care when you have one (which is free for most health plans). They can even give you access to specialist referrals.

The only thing a general contractor and a good primary care provider don’t have in common is that a relationship with a primary care provider can be a matter of life and death. Research shows that people with access to primary care physicians have lower death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke; plus, they’re less likely to be hospitalized. So, how do you get this kind of relationship working for you? Here are a few tips:

Find the right kind of doc

“Primary care physicians” can mean different kinds of physicians: “Family Practice” and “General Practice” physicians usually treat people of any age; “Internal Medicine” doctors usually treat adults; OB/GYN physicians focus on women’s health; pediatricians treat kids; and geriatricians treat older adults.

Get referrals

Ask friends to refer you to primary care providers they like.

Check the network

Your health insurance provider should have a “Find a Physician” or similar button on its website. Choose an in-network provider, or be prepared to pay more.

Be choosy

If you don’t have “good chemistry” with your doctor, change doctors.

Be prepared

Before you see your doctor, write down everything you want to discuss so you don’t forget. Also, take the prescription bottles for all the medicines you currently take.

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