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What is a primary care physician? Everything you need to know

Five no-nonsense ways to choose

This article was last updated on Oct. 31, 2022.

You know it’s important to have a primary care physician, also known as a primary care doctor, PCP or personal doctor. After all, a trusted relationship with your doctor could mean better health overall. Yet, many people don't have a primary care doctor. In fact, only 68 percent of millennials have a primary care physician, according to a recent Blue Cross® Blue Shield® Health of America Report® External Site.

Need a new primary care physician in your network? 

Log in to myWellmark®, a secure portal for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members. myWellmark is there to help you find an in-network provider or care physician who is conveniently located near you. Don’t have an account? Get registered quickly and easily today!

So, if you haven't chosen a personal doctor because you're new to the area or just switched health plans, for example, here's what you should consider.

How to choose the right personal doctor

Qualities to look for in a new PCP

A positive relationship with your primary physician is associated with greater satisfaction, better overall health and lower hospital and emergency room use.

But, how do you choose the right doctor for you? Here are some qualities to look for in a PCP:

  1. Interest in your whole being. Find someone who shows empathy and takes interest in your whole being, not just your symptoms. That means physical, mental and emotional well-being.
  2. Trust and open communication. Make sure there's a mutual feeling of trust and you have the ability to have open communication.
  3. Actively listens. It's important that your personal doctor listens to you, asks about your symptoms and answers your questions.
  4. Helps you understand. The doctor should be able to explain a diagnosis and treatment options in a way you can understand.
  5. Involves you. A good primary physician keeps you involved in your health and values your opinion on treatment options.

Important: Choose an in-network personal doctor

When choosing a personal doctor, it's important to make sure they're part of your plan's network. If you choose an out-of-network doctor, you may be responsible for the full cost of care. If at any time you need more specialized care, your dedicated personal doctor may have to submit a referral, depending on your health plan network. Oftentimes with a referral, you can avoid additional or unexpected costs.

Find a primary care physician with myWellmark

If you're a Wellmark member, log in or register for myWellmark Secure Site to make sure the doctor and facility you are considering is in your health plan network. With myWellmark you can also:

  • Check quality scores and reviews of providers with locations closest to you.
  • Know what your visits will cost before you go.
  • And, much more.

myWellmark is your once-stop source for personalized health care information. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s easy. All you need is your Wellmark ID card and a personal email address.