A primary care physician can help you get the right tests and care at the right time. Whether you’re single or have a family, each person has different needs and a primary care doctor helps you keep on top of your health.

If you need to find a primary care doctor, it’s usually better to pick one who’s in your health insurance company’s network. This is because you often pay less out of pocket when you see a network doctor. Your health insurer’s website may have an online directory of doctors you can search who are close to you. You can even try looking for a favorite doctor if you have someone in mind.

Before choosing a primary care physician, you should decide if you want to:

  • See a male or female doctor.
  • Find a doctor who speaks your primary language.
  • Choose a doctor with a certain specialty such as family practitioner, internist, OB/GYN or pediatrician.

Once you’ve chosen a primary care physician and set up a visit, write a list of questions so you don’t forget to ask them when you see the doctor. Also let your doctor know what medications you’re taking, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter drugs.1

Why checkups are important2

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a primary care doctor, you should set up a visit as soon as you can. Getting an exam and tests can help spot a problem early or before it even starts. It’s more likely that you’ll live longer and enjoy better health. Together, you can make a plan to make any needed changes.

Here are some other issues you can talk about with your doctor:1

  1. Do you need to get any tests or vaccinations? It might be time to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar level, colon, prostate or something else.
  2. Have you had any recent changes in your health? For example, is there anything new with your eating habits, sleep patterns or emotional state?
  3. Be honest with your primary care doctor. Let your doctor know about any health issues and if you’re eating healthy, exercising enough or taking medications as prescribed.
  4. Ask your doctor the right questions. At your first visit, you should find out things such as the office’s hours, how long does it take to see a doctor for a routine visit and if you can talk with a doctor by phone or via email about a health issue.

Remember to make any needed follow-up visits and you’ll stay on track to better health!