If you have an insurance plan that allows you to go see a specialist directly, rather than requiring you to go to your primary care physician first, which one to go to when you're not feeling well might not seem like such an easy decision. Medical problems aren't always straightforward, but if you're feeling ill, you likely don't want to waste time going to two appointments instead of one. There are times when going to a specialist is good, but in many cases, you should still see your primary care physician first.
Many medical conditions often masquerade as other conditions by having odd symptoms that are almost identical to something else. For example, abdominal pain might feel like a gynecological issue when it's really a bladder issue -- or even a stress-related issue where your reaction to the stress is showing up as physical pain, even though there's nothing physically wrong with you.
If you are absolutely sure of what is wrong with you, there's nothing wrong with heading straight to a specialist. But if the pain is new, or you're not 100 percent sure of what's going on, you risk going to the wrong specialist instead. By going to a primary care physician first, you can get a general examination that helps pinpoint the true cause of what's going on. You might still be referred to a specialist only to find out your pain is stress-related, to use the previous example, but at least you'll know with some confidence that this is what's really going on.
It's often cheaper to see your primary care provider first instead of a specialist for two reasons. One, your insurance might give you a number of general office visits without a co-pay, and two, a specialist is going to charge for those extra years of schooling and knowledge. This varies, of course, but if you can contact the business offices of both doctors and ask about appointment fees, you should be able to get a good idea of which is cheaper.
There are many times when a primary care physician can handle even specialized problems -- maybe the doctor has seen the condition before and knows right off the bat what's going on, or it turns out the doctor has a side specialty in exactly what's happening to you. Because it can sometimes be faster to get a consultation with a primary care provider -- yes, this isn't always the case, but it is for some offices that schedule carefully -- you may be able to get your problem solved a lot faster than if you had to wait to see a specialist.
Contact your primary care doctor to set up an appointment if something is wrong and you're not sure what it is. Primary care physicians are trained to investigate unknown health issues, so you should be able to get started on the road to wellness quickly. Contact a clinic like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc. for more information.Share
23 September 2016
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