The Critical Role of the Primary Care Physician:
What Your Employees Need to Know
By Amy Turner, Executive Director/COO of Innovation Health
We all remember the days of the HMO plan – limited care options that left many employees looking for more choice and access to care for themselves and their families. To help meet this employee request many HR directors began looking toward PPO plans, which offered larger networks of doctors and specialists, but at a higher cost than the HMO plans. Today, employees want the same options, but with the increase in high-deductible health plans, many of them are also taking a closer look at cost.
As someone who has been in the health industry for more than a decade, I have seen a lot of changes take place, but one that strikes me as imperative to address is the lack of people who have, and engage with, a primary care physician (PCP). Plan options and policy changes aside, in the past people relied on family doctors for everything. Doctors intimately knew a family’s history, often treating several generations of family members. As we try to keep our employees healthy and lower the overall cost of care, it is important that we bring this tradition back with the PCP.
Whether you are the HR director in charge of selecting health plans for your company or the CEO who is paying them, here are the top four reasons you should be advocating for your employees to engage with a PCP!
They are focused on preventive care
A PCP can be your employee’s main health care provider for their most common medical problems. But they also look out for your employee’s overall health, recommend screenings, make referrals and encourage healthy habits.
They help maintain good health
A PCP provides employees with continual care. And that’s what good health maintenance over a lifetime requires. PCPs can treat the whole person, taking into account both your employee’s history and existing conditions.
They serve as an important point of contact and resource
PCPs are personal doctors who can coordinate care. That takes stress off your employees as their doctors are ready to make sure their best interests are met. Furthermore, they are often the first people your employees can contact when they have a question or a problem. He or she can provide answers and care, or recommend a specialist when needed.
They help keep costly ER visits down
Because they will be your employees’ first line of defense, PCPs can answer questions, call in a prescription or even suggest the action your employees should take. This will help them to avoid costly ER visits as they are able to manage any health issues before they escalate.
Once your employees select a PCP, make sure they are aware that under the Affordable Care Act they’re entitled to one, free yearly checkup. You read that correctly – every single employee you have can receive one free check-up a year. This is something all of them should take advantage of. So, if you aren’t doing it already, please express to your employees the importance of building a PCP relationship and getting a yearly checkup. Not only will their health likely improve, but it could save your company and themselves valuable dollars.