5 Reasons Why You Need a Primary Care Physician
If you have health insurance, you get a free wellness check every year to make sure everything is working properly. Most of the time this visit might seem uneventful, but when you do have a change in health this is when your primary care provider will pick up on it. The better your provider knows you, the better this process works.
Your yearly physical exam will typically include:
- A weight and height check
- Blood pressure screening
- Discussion about necessary immunizations and health screenings (mammogram, cholesterol, colon screening, diabetes blood glucose screening)
- A time to discuss changes in health and create a plan for the coming year
Preston Renshaw, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Avera Health Plans, outlines why it’s worthwhile to prioritize that yearly visit.
The primary care provider is the quarterback of your care team. This person is your first point of contact and most likely will be the first to see signs of things like depression, chronic disease or other health concerns. Their job is to make sure you get the right care in a way that fits your needs and values. This could include managing those symptoms or referring you to a specialist.
Your primary care wellness visit is paid in full. From an insurance perspective, your annual wellness visit is covered as a preventive service at no cost to you, along with many other things such as age-appropriate immunizations and cancer screenings.
Tip: Your health insurance company also has services as part of your coverage. This may include health coaching, wellness programs such as Avera Health Plans’ LiveNow, or help to stop smoking or manage chronic conditions.
It can save you money in the long run. One recent study estimated that if everyone saw a primary care provider it would save $67 billion every year. It provides more opportunity for the provider to pick up on small changes in your health and create a plan of action before it becomes a large issue with larger financial and health repercussions.
Example: An additional blood test could pinpoint slightly elevated blood sugars so your provider can get you on a diet and exercise program before type 2 diabetes develops. Skipping the test due to cost could allow elevated blood sugars to go unchecked and turn into unmanaged type 2 diabetes. That can lead to the cost of insulin or health issues such as loss of vision or heart attack.
A specialist still needs a quarterback. Your specialist is really focused on a specific issue, while the primary provider looks at the big picture. In fact, adults with a primary care provider are 19% less likely to die of premature death than those who see only specialists.
Example: An endocrinologist may focus on adjusting your insulin to better manage your blood sugars. Your primary care provider may be asking if you’ve seen a podiatrist or had an eye exam to track possible side effects to your condition.
The better your provider knows you, the more he/she can help you be successful. Your health care should not be one size fits all and having a good patient-physician relationship is key.
Example: Managing diabetes wouldn’t be the same for a person who drives a truck as for someone who works at a desk or on a farm. Each has different schedules, stressors and activity levels. Taking into consideration your daily routines will help the provider incorporate dietary changes, blood sugar checks or other necessary changes into your life successfully.
Find an in-network Avera Health Plans primary care provider if you haven’t already and take advantage of the preventive care that comes with your health insurance. If you have different health insurance, Avera has a vast group of primary care physicians available to serve your health care needs.