Most health insurance plans require you to have a primary care physician or PCP. Not too long ago, a PCP was called a general practitioner or a family doctor. Spectrum Health Medical Group looks at what kinds of medical problems that a primary care doctor can treat.

A family care doctor acts as the gatekeeper for all of the other specialists you may need to see. Most health insurance companies require you to get a referral to a specialist from your PCP.

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The specialists work with your primary physician to help get you the treatment you need.

A PCP can also diagnose and treat minor health issues like colds and sprained fingers. Small wounds can be cleaned and bandaged. Many PCPs can also diagnose and prescribe medicine for some mental health issues like major depression.

Primary physicians screen you for serious health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. They have the power to write prescriptions for you to get medication and diagnostic tests. They are used to your baseline, or how you are normally, so they are able to compare how you are now to your baseline. This determines if more work needs to be done to prevent serious problems or manage existing ones.