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FAQs About Primary Care at UPMC

Because they get to know you and your medical history, your UPMC Primary Care provider is a trusted resource for all your health care needs.

What Does the Term PCP Mean?

The medical term PCP means primary care provider or primary care physician.

A PCP will:

  • Care for everyday illnesses and injuries.
  • Do yearly checkups.
  • Focus on preventive health care, like screenings and vaccines.

Your PCP takes care of you when you're sick. And they can help you stay healthy and pinpoint any potential health problems.

What are the types of PCPs?

The types of PCPs are:

  • Internal medicine doctors. They see patients, ages late teen through adulthood. They often focus on chronic health issues. Internists may be experts on heart health, digestive problems, inflammatory conditions, or other subspecialties.
  • Family medicine doctors. Some family medicine providers see newborns, babies, and young children. Other family medicine providers see young children and patients through end-of-life. It's important to know the age groups your PCP sees.
  • Children's doctors. Some family medicine providers specialize in care just for young children — newborns through late teens. This group may include pediatricians.

Do I need to have kids to see a UPMC family medicine PCP?

No. A family medicine provider treats individuals and people of all genders across the lifespan.

What Conditions Do Primary Care Providers Treat?

PCPs treat many common illnesses and injuries. These include coughs and colds, flu, sinus infections, sprains, and cuts.

They can help you manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

They will keep track of your complete medical history to give you the best care possible.

To keep you healthy, your PCP will suggest health screenings. Suggested screenings depend on your age, sex, and medical history.

Early detection of disease through screenings can be a lifesaver. These screenings might include annual physicals, Pap tests, breast exams, mammograms, prostate screenings, colonoscopies, and more.

When you need expert care, your PCP can refer you to specialists, services, and treatments.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Primary Care Provider?

Many people wonder: Why do I need a PCP?

It's simple. You're more likely to be healthy — and stay healthy — if you see the same provider regularly.

Through regular visits, your PCP gets to know you, your family history, and your lifestyle. Regular visits help you develop a relationship with your PCP. This allows you to talk honestly and openly about your health concerns.

Your PCP can help you stay healthy with routine checkups, screenings, and vaccines. They can help you manage long-term health issues like arthritis, obesity, and diabetes. Your PCP can screen for mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

When you need expert care, your PCP connects you to the right specialists. Even when seeing multiple doctors, your PCP will always oversee your medical care.

Why Do People Switch PCPs?

Some people switch PCPs because their:

  • Health insurance changed.
  • Doctor retired or moved to an inconvenient location.
  • PCP's style or personality doesn't mesh with theirs.

All of these are valid reasons to switch PCPs.

How can I switch my PCP?

You can switch your PCP by visiting our UPMC Provider Directory or calling 1-800-533-8762.

How Do I Choose a PCP?

To choose the right PCP, think about what's most important to you.

  • Are you looking for a practice close to home?
  • Do you need weekend or evening hours?
  • Would you rather have a male or female doctor — and does their age matter to you?
  • Would you prefer a PCP who speaks your primary language?

One of the best ways to find a PCP is to ask family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for suggestions. You can also find a PCP through UPMC Providers.

The next step is to plan a visit to the office. You can share any questions and concerns with the doctor and staff on your first visit. Then, you can decide if the doctor is a good fit for you.

Note: Make sure that your PCP accepts your insurance. Also, confirm that they can practice at the hospitals included in your health care plan.

What Does It Cost to Have a Primary Care Doctor? Is It Expensive to Go to a PCP?

The cost of a PCP visit varies based on your insurance and the type of visit.

Overall, having a PCP is a cost-efficient source of health care. It encourages you to see a doctor regularly.

A PCP can catch minor health problems before they become big problems.

Check with your health plan about the cost of a routine checkup or yearly PCP visit.

How can I pay for my visit to UPMC Primary Care?

We accept cash, checks, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, and debit cards.

Based on your insurance, you may have a co-pay. Ask your PCP if you must pay your co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs when you visit.

We participate in many insurance plans — we can give you that info as needed. Please contact your insurance company directly with questions regarding your coverage.

How Often Should I See My PCP if I Feel Like I'm in Overall Good Health?

You should see your PCP once a year, even if your health is good.

Your PCP can:

  • Check vital signs like blood pressure, weight, and height.
  • Discuss any questions or concerns you have.
  • Give you a physical exam.
  • Screen for various diseases.
  • Talk about ways to make your lifestyle healthier.
  • Update your vaccines.

Can I Get the Same Kind of Treatment at an "Express Care" as I Would From My UPMC PCP?

When possible, you should get care from your PCP. They know you and your health history.

But sometimes, accidents or illnesses happen after hours when your primary care practice isn't open or a PCP isn't available. During those times, express or urgent care centers can help you get the care you need when you need it.

It would be best if you let your PCP know when you visit an urgent care or express care center. Your PCP can update your medical records to include that information.

What If I Get Sick After Office Hours?

You can call your PCP's office any day at any time.

With your complete medical records, someone will assess your illness and let you know if you should:

What If I Need a Referral to Another Provider or Service?

Your PCP can recommend or refer you to another specialist.

The office staff can help with insurance questions if you need to see an expert or have testing done.

What If I Need to Go to the Hospital?

You may need to go to the emergency room if your situation is severe or life-threatening.

UPMC has more than 35 hospitals in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York.

Because you have a UPMC PCP, the hospital team will have access to your electronic health records. Having that info handy will help improve your care.