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Why is having a family doctor important?

Finding a family doctor you trust is an important part of your health journey. A family doctor (also called a primary care provider, or PCP) knows you and your medical history. And, because you know your PCP, you’ll be more likely to schedule regular appointments and ask questions about your health.

Having a PCP helps:

  • Improve health – a PCP makes sure you get the care you need when you need it
  • Lower out-of-pocket costs – by improving health, a PCP can help you avoid duplicate tests and prescriptions, costly visits to the emergency room, or inpatient hospital stays
  • Increase the quality of care – a PCP can access test results run by specialists so she or he can have a big-picture view of your health and can often determine the cause of an illness

A PCP is like the coach of your healthcare team. She or he is the first call you make when you have questions, need advice or need a game plan. Your PCP looks at your overall health to identify possible risks and then coordinates your care. Your PCP also keeps track of your screenings and reminds you to schedule them. Should you need to see a specialist, your PCP can recommend one who is in-network and help with any follow-up. Your PCP can also answer questions about any medications or medical devices you may use and can help find alternatives to better fit your budget.

How to select a primary care provider

Not all PCPs are doctors. Some are nurse practitioners or physician assistants. All are qualified to treat you. You may choose different types of PCPs depending on your situation.

  • Family or general practitioner. These doctors care for a wide range of health concerns and may be able to treat family members of any age.
  • Internist. Internists treat adults and may have additional training.
  • Pediatricians. Pediatricians specialize in healthcare for children and adolescents.
  • Geriatricians. These doctors focus on healthcare for older adults.
  • Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist or Physician Assistant. These are educated and certified professionals qualified to help you.

Selecting a PCP in your network may help you save money. If you need a primary care provider, please visit