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5 reasons to have a primary care doctor

Why you shouldn’t wait until you’re sick or hurt


     

January 6, 2017


No matter how healthy you are, you really should have a primary care doctor. But why?

  1. You’ll stay healthier
    Numerous medical studies found that patients who see a primary care doctor regularly are less likely to be hospitalized or have surgery. They get preventive care (mammograms, colon cancer screenings) more often and their chronic conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure) are better managed. If there’s something wrong, it’s caught earlier with preventive care which leads to better outcomes.

  2. You’ll save yourself some moola

    Even though preventive care is 100 percent covered by the Affordable Care Act (meaning you pay nothing), Americans are only getting about half of the preventive care they should. By seeing your doctor regularly, you’re more likely to keep issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol at bay which will help you avoid costly prescriptions and care later on.

    Jar full of coins with a label that reads, 'saving'
  3. You’ll save some precious time, too
    Doctors (MD), physician assistants (PA) or nurse practitioners (NP) can all offer primary care. Usually these people practice internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics. Some gynecologists (OB/GYN) can fill that role as well, depending on your situation. For example, your annual women’s health checkup (Pap test1) can also serve as your primary care physical – no need to make two appointments.

  4. Your doc is the “hub” of your health wheel
    Your primary care provider helps you connect with the other needed parts. When patients need specialists, primary care professionals coordinate with these doctors to ensure the right information is shared and nothing is missed or duplicated. Plus, primary care manages many acute and chronic conditions, so you might not even need to see a specialist!

  5. You’ll make a new friend who’s got your back

    The relationship that develops between a primary care doctor and patient over time helps in many ways. People feel more comfortable as they get to know their doctor and are more willing to be truthful about their health and lifestyle. They’re also more likely to ask questions they’re wondering about, even if they’d be too embarrassed to ask anyone else.

    A child at a clinic high-fiving someone wearing a blue, latex glove

Set yourself up for a great 2017. To see what care you need now, enter your age and sex below. (Use zero for children younger than one year.)

These recommendations are based on info from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Wondering what care you need? Talk to your doctor. Your family’s health history may affect what care you need.


One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

Download a printable version of these guidelines.

Age Range: Birth - 3 years

Immunization Birth 1m 2m 4m 6m 12m 15m 18m 24m
Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP)     * * *   *  
Poliovirus (IPV)     * * *  
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)           *    
Varicella (Chickenpox)           *    
Pneumococcal (PCV)     * * * *    
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)     * * # *    
Rotavirus     * * #        
Hepatitis B (Hep B)  * *   *  
Hepatitis A (Hep A)           * 2 shots, 6 months apart
Influenza (flu)         * yearly

# Child may need three or four doses of Hib, and two or three doses of Rotavirus depending on manufacturer.

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

Download a printable version of these guidelines.

Age Range: Birth - 3 years

Immunization Birth 1m 2m 4m 6m 12m 15m 18m 24m
Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP)     * * *   *  
Poliovirus (IPV)     * * *    
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)           *    
Varicella (Chickenpox)           *    
Pneumococcal (PCV)     * * * *    
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)     * * # *    
Rotavirus     * * #        
Hepatitis B (Hep B)  * *   *  
Hepatitis A (Hep A)           * 2 shots, 6 months apart
Influenza (flu)         *

# Child may need three or four doses of Hib, and two or three doses of Rotavirus depending on manufacturer.

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

Immunization 4-6 years
DTaP DTaP is needed
Influenza (flu) Yearly
MMR (MMRV) MMR is needed
Varicella (chickenpox) Varicella is needed
Poliovirus (IPV) Poliovirus is needed

Screening

4-6 years

Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

 
Immunization 7-10 years
DTaP Confirm completed by age 6.
Influenza (flu) Yearly
MMR (MMRV) Confirm completed by age 6.
Varicella (chickenpox) Confirm completed by age 6.
Poliovirus (IPV) Confirm completed by age 6.

Screening

7-10 years

Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

Immunization 11-12 years
Tdap Tdap is needed
Human Papillomavirus (HPV-girls and boys) Cervarix and Gardasil 3-dose series is needed
Influenza (flu) Yearly
Meningococcal Meningococcal is needed

Screening

11-12 years

Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

One of the best ways to keep your child healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care your child needs based on personal and family history.

Immunization 11-12 years
Tdap Tdap is needed
Influenza (flu) Yearly
Meningococcal Meningococcal is needed
Human Papillomavirus(HPV-girls and boys) 3-dose series is needed

Screening

11-12 years

Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

One of the best ways for teenagers to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Immunization 13-18 years
Tdap Verify Tdap is complete
Influenza (flu) Yearly
Meningococcal Booster is needed at age 16.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV-boys and girls) Verify HPV is complete

Screening

13-18 years

Chlamydia screening Yearly for all sexually active women age 24 years and younger.
Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

One of the best ways for teenagers to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Immunization 13-18 years
Tdap Verify Tdap is complete
Influenza (flu) Yearly
Meningococcal Booster is needed at age 16.
Human Papillaomavirus (HPV-gils and boys) Verify HPV is complete

Screening

13-18 years

Weight screening Record height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and BMI percentile yearly.

Why see the doctor when you’re not sick? Because preventive care is important! One of the best ways for men to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 19-34 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

Why see the doctor when you’re not sick? Because preventive care is important! One of the best ways for men to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 35-44 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for men over age 34.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

Why see the doctor when you’re not sick? Because preventive care is important! One of the best ways for men to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 45-64 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for men over age 34.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) A 1-time dose is recommended at age 60 or older.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

Why see the doctor when you’re not sick? Because preventive care is important! One of the best ways for men to stay healthy is to follow the recommended guidelines for vaccines and screenings. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 65 and older
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for men over age 34.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) A 1-time dose is recommended at age 60 or older.
Pneumococcal immunization Immunize at age 65. If immunization before age 65, or you are at high risk, talk to your doctor.
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 19-20 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Chlamydia screening Yearly for sexually active women age 24 and younger.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 21-25 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Beginning at age 21, every 3 years.
Chlamydia screening Yearly for sexually active women age 24 and younger. After age 24, talk to your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 26-29 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Beginning at age 21, every 3 years.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 30-39 years
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Pap every three years, or 5 years if combined with HPV testing.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 40-44 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Breast cancer screening (Mammogram) Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screening.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Pap every three years, or 5 years if combined with HPV testing.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 45-49 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Breast cancer screening (Mammogram) Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screening.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Pap every three years, or 5 years if combined with HPV testing.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for women over age 44.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 50-64 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Breast cancer screening (Mammogram) Mammogram every 1-2 years for women age 50-75 years.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Pap every three years, or 5 years if combined with HPV testing.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for women over age 44.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) A 1-time dose is recommended at age 60 or older.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (td/Tdap) A Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) booster is recommended every 10 years. Substitute one Td booster with a 1-time Tdap vaccine. Tdap adds protection against pertussis (whooping cough).
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service 65-75 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Breast cancer screening (Mammogram) Mammogram every 1-2 years for women age 50-75 years.
Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) Stop screening at age 65-70 if adequate screening was carried out in the preceding 10 years.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for women over age 44.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) A 1-time dose is recommended at age 60 or older.
Pneumococcal immunization Immunize at age 65. If immunization before age 65, or you are at high risk, talk to your doctor.
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

You’re feeling great and don’t have time to be sick - sound familiar? Women are sometimes busy taking care of everyone else and put themselves last. Getting the preventive care you need is important for you and your family and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about the specific care you need based on your personal and family history.

Service Over 75 years
Aspirin use Discuss with your doctor the benefits/risks of aspirin.
Blood pressure screening Blood pressure check as determined by your doctor.
Chlamydia screening Talk to your doctor.
Cholesterol (Lipids) screening Fasting lipid screening for women over age 44.
Colorectal cancer screening Start screening at age 50. If you are African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, start at age 45. Repeat screening at intervals determined by type of screening test used. Routine screening is recommended through age 75.
Influenza (flu) Get a flu shot every year to lower your risk of getting the flu.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) A 1-time dose is recommended at age 60 or older.
Pneumococcal immunization Immunize at age 65. If immunization before age 65, or you are at high risk, talk to your doctor.
Alcohol use screening If you use alcohol, talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.
Tobacco use screening If you use tobacco products, talk to your doctor about options to help you quit. For staying healthy, quitting the use of any tobacco product is the best step you can take.
Weight screening Record height, weight and body mass index (BMI) yearly.

Now go find yourself a primary care BFF.

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