A new year means a renewed focus on personal health.

While many of us are entering 2022 with resolutions to eat better or exercise more, we often overlook one of the most important ways to maintain our long-term health: primary care.

No matter your age, seeing a primary care physician has many benefits for your well-being.

Primary care physicians include family practice, general practitioners, general internists, general pediatricians, and geriatricians. They serve as your medical hub and advisor, providing routine check-ups and guidance based on your personal medical history.

Benefits to having a primary care physician:

Immediate care

If you already have a primary care physician, it is much easier to schedule an appointment for immediate assistance, whether you sustain a minor injury or are feeling ill.

Your doctor can recommend treatments based on your condition. If your physician is familiar with your health history, some conditions can be treated over the phone.

Long-term care

Having a primary care provider is an investment in your future health as well. Annual examinations, which are often fully covered by insurance, keep your health in check and minimize the risk of chronic diseases.

In addition to treating current health issues, physicians can help you prevent issues later in life. Routine checkups can show trends in your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other factors, to ensure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A lifetime relationship

When you see the same physician throughout your lifetime, they develop a comprehensive understanding of your overall health. This relationship leads to better care from your physician, who can diagnose illnesses and ailments with more accuracy. Having an all-inclusive health history is beneficial to your health’s future.

Lower health care costs

Regular visits to your primary care physician can reduce health care costs:

  • Preventive screenings can identify serious illnesses before they require hospital and emergency room visits. This can include detection of cancer in its early stages, when it is easiest to treat.
  • Some insurance providers provide benefits for scheduling annual wellness exams, reducing your overall premiums.

Your first phone call

When you need specialty treatment beyond your physician’s capabilities, such as surgery or orthopedic care, your physician can refer you to trusted specialists.

Apart from emergency situations, your primary care provider should be your first point of contact. If you need more extensive treatment or surgery, your physician can refer you to the proper specialist.

Finding the Right Primary Care Physician

A long-term relationship with your physician starts with finding the right provider. Here are several ways to help make your decision.

Stay in your network

Each insurance provider has a list of doctors and health systems in your area considered “in-network.” Finding a physician in your network will ensure you are paying the lowest out-of-pocket costs without out-of-network fees.


If you know family members or friends who have good relationships with their physician, they might have good recommendations on finding one. Other health care professionals—such as your pharmacist or dentist— might be good individuals to ask.

Keep it convenient

Long-term commitments should be simple to maintain. Choose a provider close to your home or office, and one that has hours that fit your schedule.

Determine your health care needs

Different types of providers can specialize in certain areas of health care. When you are choosing from a list of physicians, consider which would best serve your needs, such as family practice, general practice, or internal medicine.