Do You Need a PCP?

When it comes to your health, your doctor is the one person you probably count on more than any other. But do you need to have a specific physician (a primary care provider, or PCP) who provides you with most of your care? Or should you just visit a specialist when the need arises?

It certainly helps to choose one physician who will act as your PCP, even though your health plan may not require that you choose a PCP. PCPs treat you for a wide variety of conditions, provide important preventive care, checkups, and tests and make referrals to participating specialists and facilities. Frequently, PCPs charge the lowest possible copayment for services.

Finding a PCP is easy—just log on to, and choose the Find a Doctor link located at the top of the page. You can search for a doctor by location, whether he or she is taking new patients, or by quality measures.