Health-care reform opens the doors for millions to receive primary health-care and preventive services.
Omaha, NE – If you’re one of the millions of Americans who gained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, you may be wondering where your health-care journey should start. According to experts, the first step is to seek out a primary care physician.
Primary care physicians practice internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics and are the first point of contact for a patient accessing health-care services. They are board certified and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses and medical conditions.
But patients shouldn’t wait until they get sick to choose a primary care doctor, said Joel Bessmer, MD, FACP, medical director at Members.MD. “When primary care physicians see their patients regularly, they can look for symptoms patients may not notice,” he said. “Annual exams help physicians coach patients on healthy lifestyle habits that may decrease the likelihood that patients will need expensive specialty care down the road.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52 percent of uninsured Americans lack access to a primary care provider. Without a primary care doctor, patients are more likely to experience adverse outcomes and higher hospitalization and mortality rates.
As an internist for the past 15 years, Dr. Bessmer believes that patients who develop a strong relationship with their primary care physician can keep illnesses at bay. “There’s an old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I really believe this is true,” he said. “I recently did a routine health exam for a longtime patient and found a hormone imbalance due to glandular problems. Health problems like these can go unnoticed for years by patients who don’t regularly see their physician – resulting in serious chronic health issues.”
To find the best physician for your needs, start by asking for recommendations from family members, friends or coworkers. If someone you respect and trust has had a positive experience with a doctor, there’s a good chance you will also like that particular physician, Dr. Bessmer said.
“You can also identify a hospital with an excellent reputation and visit its website or call its physician referral line to get the names of some physicians with privileges there,” Dr. Bessmer said. In addition, many hospital websites have “find a physician” tools, allowing users to search by city, state or zip code, or by doctor’s last name, gender or specialty.
Joel Bessmer, MD, FACP, is board certified in internal medicine and has been practicing medicine for more than 15 years. He serves as the medical director of Members.MD, a premier concierge health-care service provider based in Omaha, Neb. As a concierge physician, Dr. Bessmer develops personal wellness plans focused on preventive medicine and is available to his patients 24 hours a day. To learn more about Dr. Bessmer, please visit www.members.md/bessmer.