Even if you see several specialists, you still need a primary care physician (PCP), two new studies suggest.
The first found people with PCPs receive better-quality cancer screenings, more regular check-ups, and a higher level of overall care than those who don’t. The second shows that for every 10 additional PCPs available to 100,000 people, life expectancy increases by close to two months.
One in four adults are PCP-free. In the under-30 crowd, that ratio jumps to nearly one in two. “Healthy and physically fit people may not need their primary care physician for much,” says the first study's author David Levine, MD, MPH, Boston-based internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. But that continuous relationship means if you get sick with something minor like the flu or more serious like cancer, you have a doctor with your full history ready to diagnose and treat you.
Plus, PCPs are more likely to offer preventive care than specialists are, which helps you stay healthy in the long term.
Ask friends for recommendations and schedule a visit every two years, then annually once you hit 40, the authors say.