FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 6, 2011
Just as it is important to routinely change the oil in your car so it runs smoothly, it is also important to visit a primary care physician every year to maintain good health. With National Primary Care Week taking place Monday, Oct. 10, through Friday, Oct. 14, and open enrollment periods for health insurance programs beginning soon, it is a good time to review ways people have access to health care and the benefits of getting an annual physical examination.
Common ways people get access to health care:
Employer insurance programs like HMO and PPO. Check with your employer’s human resources department for more information.
Government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Typically Medicare is for people age 65 and older. People of any age with kidney failure or who are permanently disabled and cannot work also may qualify. Medicaid is a service for qualifying low income individuals, such as pregnant women, children under age 19, adults 65 and older, people who are blind, people who are disabled or people who require nursing home care. Medicare provides a fact sheet with additional information about the two programs. Open enrollment for Medicare begins Saturday, Oct. 15.
The Affordable Care Act enables young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26, even if they are married or not living with their parents. Effective Oct. 1, the new Community First Choice Option allows states to offer home and community-based services to disabled people through Medicaid rather than institutional care in nursing homes.
I’m not sick. Why do I need to see a physician?
The key to wellness is preventing health problems before they occur. Addressing warning signs of heart disease and other illnesses now can help prevent chronic diseases in the future. Routine physicals can help detect high blood pressure and cholesterol levels early so that appropriate lifestyle changes can be made. A primary care physician, such as your family physician or internist, can:
Perform annual physicals and check-ups.
Administer vaccines that protect you and your family from preventable illnesses.
Provide appropriate follow-up care for existing or chronic conditions, helping you to achieve optimal health.
Refer patients to a specialist for additional treatment when needed.
If you do not have a physician, the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) Choosing a Physician Guide offers guidance in helping families select a new physician. The guide also includes health care options for people who are uninsured.
The Search for a Primary Care Doctor Begins with “DO”
Osteopathic physicians (DOs) are fully licensed to prescribe medication and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery. Both DOs and MDs complete four years of medical school and three to eight years of postdoctoral training.
Historically, DOs have had a special commitment to providing primary care, particularly in the nation’s rural and underserved populations. Today, 2,426 or more than 46% of DOs in AOA residency programs are in primary care residencies. See the latest version of the AOA’s Osteopathic Medical Profession Report for additional statistics about DOs.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might want to consider seeing an osteopathic physician:
Do you want a physician who encourages preventative health care?
Do you want a physician who would be willing to explore all possible treatment options with you?
Do you feel comfortable speaking to a physician about factors that contribute to your health, such as stress, emotional status, personal and work life?
Are you comfortable with a physician using a hands-on manipulative treatment to diagnose and treat illness and injury?
What online resources are available to find a physician?
American Osteopathic Association — Find a DO
American Medical Association — DoctorFinder
WebMD — Physician Directory