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Primary care doctors are an important part of the medical field because they are often a patient’s first point of contact for their medical needs. There are different types of primary care doctors, including family or general practitioners, internists, geriatricians, and pediatricians. Proper medical care is crucial to living a long and healthy life, so there are many factors that go into choosing the right primary care doctor.


Insurance Plays a Role

Depending on the type of insurance plan, it may be a requirement to select a primary care doctor. People enrolled in Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans are usually required to select a primary care doctor. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, Point of Service (POS) plans, and Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans may or may not require a designated primary care doctor.

Some insurance plans may also limit the list of doctors that are covered under the plan. Other plans allow a person to select any primary care doctor without limitations, or may offer incentives for choosing a doctor within their network of providers.


Important Factors to Consider

With a wide selection of doctors to choose from, narrowing down what’s important in a provider may be a challenge. Some things to consider are:

  • the hospital the doctor is affiliated with.
  • the doctor’s location.
  • whether the doctor is male or female.
  • whether the doctor follows the conventional medical model or a more holistic approach.
  • standard office hours and after-hours availability.
  • the doctor’s bedside manor and the professionalism of office staff.

Where to Find Options

Asking friends or family members for provider recommendations is always a good start. Checking with the insurance company for a list of participating providers is also an excellent starting point. Researching online for recommendations and provider reviews will often give a broader perspective of how the doctor treats their patients. There are also websites like Administrators in Medicine that list a doctor’s certifications and any disciplinary actions filed against them.

Once the choices have been narrowed down to a few selections, a patient has the option to interview providers either in-person or over the phone to make sure they are comfortable with the doctor and that the provider is a good fit.