Health insurance 101: make your PCP your BFF

Nurse Showing Patient Test Results Holding Folder Whilst Sitting Down

We’re continuing our new health insurance 101 series with tips on how to make the most of your relationship with your primary care provider (PCP). Your relationship with your PCP should be a dependable and reliable one. Your PCP, or care provider, should make you feel comfortable, see you often and be available to you when you need them most.

Ever take your car in for a scheduled tune up? Your body needs one, too. Establishing a relationship with your PCP helps you get care that can prevent costly episodes later on; in fact, people who see their PCP more often are admitted to the hospital less frequently because their health concerns are better managed. It also establishes you in a “preferred group” in the care provider’s practice, which means the practice is more likely to be able to get you in for urgent/emergency visits.

Whether you already have a PCP or are looking for one that better suits your health needs and lifestyle, consider these six tips for a long-lasting and positive healthcare partnership.

  1. Ensure your PCP is in-network

First thing’s first: find a PCP that is part of the Bright Health network. Search for an in-network provider by specialty and location to generate a list of physicians in your area that might be a good fit for you.

  1. Find the right fit

Select a PCP that specializes in a field that aligns with your current lifestyle and health goals. And keep in mind, a PCP can be a physician from your family practice doctor’s office, a physicians assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP), OB/GYN or pediatrian for children. Family and general practice physicians are generalists that can treat patients of all ages; internal medicine physicians focus on adults and general practice; and geriatricians treat adults age 65 and older.

When you leave an appointment with your care provider, you should feel that your concerns were heard and your health goals were acknowledged. It’s essential that you both collaborate to come up with a healthcare plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

  1. Consider logistics

Long-distance relationships aren’t ideal, especially when it comes to your PCP. When searching for a care provider, consider his or her office hours and location. Is it close to your office or home? Does he or she offer early or late hours to accommodate your work schedule? If you can’t fit in an appointment without taking time off work, you’ll push off routine visits.

Look for a practice that’s, on average, less than 30 minutes from your home or office and check to see if the practice offers extended hours or co-located urgent care.

  1. Share concerns

When meeting with your PCP, it’s important not to be shy. Share any and all health concerns you may have—no matter how small, insignificant or embarrassing you think they might be. Be sure to discuss honestly changes in your lifestyle too. The more your care provider knows about you, the better he or she can do his or her job.

  1. Discuss the past

Taking your family history into consideration is essential for your PCP to understand what your disease risk may be down the road. Ensure your PCP has updated family history information and alert him or her to changes or new conditions with your family members’ health.

  1. Keep communicating

Make sure to see your PCP on a regular basis and keep in contact to share any lifestyle or health changes. Just like any healthy relationship, communication is key to a happy partnership with your PCP.

Want more health insurance 101 tips and advice? Check out this post on in-network versus out-of-network physicians and see what aligned care is all about in this post

Author: Stephanie Sample

May 9, 2017