Primary care refers to health care at a basic level rather than a specialized level. Primary care providers serve a critical role in keeping us healthy, and yet a growing number of Americans do not have a primary care doctor. You can be proactive and take control of your health by finding a primary care physician and keeping up with regular appointments.

Your primary care doctor is often the first point of contact with the healthcare system. This means they are the first to see depression, early signs of chronic disease, and other health concerns. They can help you navigate you the healthcare system by referring you to other services to treat specific conditions. According to the CDC, people who have a primary care doctor are less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and stroke. They are the best place to start if you need any type of health care, and can help keep you on track with recommended preventative screenings.

Annual appointments are excellent opportunities to ask questions about your health, be referred for recommended services, and spot potential problems before they get too serious. Choosing a primary care physician to visit regularly helps you build a trusting relationship with your doctor, and helps them gain a better picture of your overall health.

If you already have a primary care doctor, that’s great! If you don’t have a primary care doctor, we encourage you to find one who suits your needs. Contact your benefits department or insurance company to find a physician who will be covered by your insurance. It is important to find a physician who you feel comfortable with, so try asking family or friends for referrals, or looking up reviews online. Once you’ve booked your appointment, check out our pre- check-up checklist below!

Pre Check-Up Checklist

  • Review your family health history – Let your doctor know about any new conditions within your family. Family history can influence your risk of developing certain diseases, and an accurate history can help your doctor make recommendations.
  • Write down a list of questions to take with you – Review any existing health problems. Have you noticed any changes? When did these changes start?
  • Keep a list of your medications and dietary supplements – This includes things like vitamins. Don’t forget to write down the dosage! If you experience any negative side effects from medication, make sure to let your doctor know.

Sources: CDC, NIH. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.