When you switch insurance carriers, one of the first things you do is choose your primary care physician. This doctor is important for your overall healthcare and for coordinating care among specialist doctors. Here's a look at the services a primary care physician can offer you.
General Family Healthcare
Your whole family may go to the same primary care physician, but it may also be possible for each family member to choose their own. In either case, the doctor can provide general family medicine, such as vaccinations, treatment for colds and flu, management of high blood pressure, diabetes, COPD, or other chronic health problems.
You'll also have regular physical exams from your primary care physician even if you have no medical problems. Your insurance company may encourage you to have annual physical and medical tests that are appropriate for your age so you can find health problems early and prevent them when possible.
Referrals To Other Physicians
Some insurance policies might require a referral before you can see a specialist. If yours does, then your primary care physician is the one who does it. The doctor can determine if a specialist is needed, and your insurance company relies on your doctor's opinion when they decide whether to approve the cost.
There may be some medical professionals, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, that you can see without a referral, so be sure to understand your policy before you make an appointment on your own with someone other than your primary care doctor.
Prescriptions For Exams And Equipment
Just like your primary care physician needs to refer you to a specialist doctor, they also need to approve certain medical procedures, tests, and equipment. The tests they order need to be in alignment with the insurance company's guidelines too, but your insurance company is more likely to pay when your doctor approves the medical test or procedure first.
In the same way, you may get your insurance company to pay for equipment your doctor writes a prescription for, such as a wheelchair or other medical device. If you have a prescription from your primary care physician and approval from your insurance company, insurance may pay for the cost of a wheelchair. Otherwise, you'll have to pay the full cost out of your own pocket.
Coordination Of Healthcare
If you go to a specialist physician, the doctor may need to prescribe medications. They'll want to know all the medications you're on, and you'll also want to let your primary care physician know when a specialist prescribes a new medication. That way, your primary care doctor can monitor your drugs and look for interactions. They may need to alter some drugs they have prescribed or talk to your eye doctor or other specialists to work out the best way to manage your medications when you're having side effects.
Having one doctor coordinate your healthcare is also helpful when your insurance limits the tests and medications you can receive each year. It's often difficult to understand health insurance, so having a doctor you can turn to with questions is a big help.
For more information, contact a primary care physician such as Haven Direct Primary Care.