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The Importance of a Primary Care Physician

June 29, 2015

The following is a guest editorial by Dr. Barry Malinowski, vice president and medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio.

You’re healthy. You’re young. You don’t need a primary care physician, do you?
You bet you do.
Simply put, a primary care physician can help you build a plan for a better life – and often times, those conversations are best begun while you are perfectly healthy. A primary care provider (PCP) can have such a big impact on your health based upon the relationship built with your doctor that deepens over the years. Your doctor gets to know you as a person – your health history, your habits, your health goals -- and helps you manage your overall progress. That kind of continuity of care provides tangible benefits that add up to better health results – here are just a few:
• A PCP can keep you healthier as you age – states with more PCPs per capita have better health outcomes, including fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to study in the International Journal of Health.
• A PCP gets to know you, which means that he or she might be more attuned to signs that indicate a sudden change in health. A PCP who knows you well might be more clued in to incipient signs of depression, for example, or be more likely to take you seriously when you complain of sleeplessness and fatigue than a doctor who sees you only once and doesn’t realize you aren’t your usual self.
• Your PCP can help you manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes so that they don’t flare into critical situations that can land you in the emergency room.
• PCPs coordinate directly with specialists that you may need to see and PCPs act like a quarterback, making sure all the health professionals you may be seeing function together as a team. That means less duplication of tests and fewer appointments.  Oftentimes, a PCP can keep track of whether you are filling critical medications or attending critical follow-up appointments with specialists.
Setting up a relationship with a consistent provider now, when you’re healthy, can help you save time down the line – whether it’s bronchitis or something more serious. Once you’ve established care and set up that relationship, it’s much easier for your PCP to help you resolve routine, recurring matters over the phone or via email. Many PCPs are staying open later in the evening and at times on the weekend, saving you the time – and higher expense – of waiting in an urgent care or emergency room.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Community Insurance Company, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.  ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or visit our YouTube channel at

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