What To Do If You Don’t Have a Primary Care Doctor?

Access to a primary healthcare doctor has been proven to result in positive health and wellness outcomes. However, throughout their lives, there are many reasons that people find themselves without access to a primary care doctor. 

For example, it could be that you are moving home and have not found a new primary care provider, that you have changed your insurance plan and your old provider is no longer covered so you need a new one, or that you have found yourself without health insurance coverage for a time. You may even fall foul of the primary care provider shortage that is currently going on throughout the US. 

The good news is that even if you don’t have access to a primary care provider there are other alternatives you can consider. Read on to find out more about the scientifically researched benefits of primary care providers, and some of the alternatives you can try if you find yourself without one. 

Table of Contents

Who Is a Primary Care Doctor?

A primary care doctor is the first contact most people have with the healthcare system not only when they are sick, but also when they want to take a proactive approach to improve their health. A primary care doctor is the first line of defense for treating and curing illnesses, as well as preventative medicine, and studies show that those individuals with access to a primary care doctor have better health and wellness. 

How to Get a Primary Care Doctor?

For most people access to a primary care doctor will come from their health insurance. There will still be some element of choice involved though, so it’s best to research those that are on your insurance’s on-plan list to make sure they suit your needs. 

Some things that can help you choose a primary care physician include asking for your current doctor to refer you to a new one, for example, if you are moving home, or changing your insurance plan. Asking friends and family for recommendations can also point you in the right direction. Lastly, do not be afraid to ask your hospital for primary care provider recommendations, especially if you have a specific medical condition that needs monitoring. 

Do You Really Need a Primary Care Doctor?

Research shows that having access to a primary care physician is crucial to your health. Indeed, (Levine et al, 2019) state that adults that had a primary care provider experienced a range of advantages over those that did not have access. These include: routine preventative visits, and high-value cancer screenings, and were likely to fill more prescriptions. What this shows is those with access to a primary care physician are much more likely to take consistent care of their health both reactively and proactively. 

Where to Go if You Don’t Have a Primary Care Doctor?

For those currently outside the care of a primary doctor there are some other options to consider, read on to discover what they are. 

Urgent Care

First of all, you may wish to consider going to Urgent Care. These are facilities that are designed to deal with more minor health issues and injuries, as long as they are not an emergency. (For urgent think – loss of consciousness, significant bleeding, broken bones that pierce the skin, etc). The great thing about Urgent Care centers is that if you can wait you will get seen there and then. Although, if you don’t have insurance you will need to still cover the cost of an Urgent Care visit, so it’s worth bearing that in mind.

Walk-In Clinic

The next alternative to consider is a walk-in clinic. This type of health facility will provide you with primary care services, but bear in mind that they only have limited staff and resources so can be quite time-consuming. Furthermore, you are likely to have to wait for a few hours before you get seen by a doctor or nurse. Again, if you don’t have insurance you will still need to cover the cost of the visit.

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are a good place to get some kinds of basic health care including vaccinations. Pharmacists are also very knowledgeable about medication and can advise you on any potential interactions, as well as answer questions about any specific drug. 

Mail-Order Services

If you are looking for access to medication then a mail-order service may be able to help. These work by having you fill out a short questionnaire online (or an interview over the phone) which is then checked by the prescribing doctor who can authorize the medication to be dispensed. In particular, you will find that access to diabetes medications, contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, allergy medications, abortion pills, and treatments for urinary tract infections tend to be available in this format.

Telehealth 

Last of all, another option for those without access to a primary care physician may find a telehealth solution helpful. Telehealth works by connecting the patient with a qualified medical professional via video call, so it’s perfect for issues that do not require a physical examination such as colds, coughs, mild fevers, and the like.  

How Can DrHouse Help You?

Here at DrHouse, we can provide you with virtual primary care. DrHouse is a trusted telemedicine provider that offers on-demand appointments with clinicians in as little as 15 minutes. This means no more wasting time in waiting rooms or taking time off work to fit in your appointments. 

DrHouse offers telehealth support around the clock 24/7, so you never need to worry that you will be lost or alone without the medical support you need. Our clinicians are always board-certified so you know you will get the very best care possible, as well as excellent customer service. 

The service we provide at DrHouse goes beyond video appointments and provides prescriptions as needed, whether you need a new medicine or want to renew a prescription for one you are currently taking. 

Here at DrHouse, we pride ourselves on being not only convenient but affordable. You don’t even need insurance coverage to be seen by our doctors, which means anyone can get access to the primary care they need to stay well and take care of their health over the long term. 

Key Takeaways

Not having access to a primary care physician has been shown to have negative health outcomes. 

With that in mind, you must make sure you have access to a primary care doctor whenever you need them. There are several ways you can do this, as mentioned above, but by far the most convenient option is to speak to one of DrHouse’s board-certified clinicians via telemedicine. You can even get an appointment today in 15 minutes, and you don’t need insurance to qualify. 

Sources:

  • Duru OK, Schmittdiel JA, Dyer WT, Parker MM, Uratsu CS, Chan J, Karter AJ. Mail-order pharmacy use and adherence to diabetes-related medications. Am J Manag Care. 2010 Jan;16(1):33-40. PMID: 20148603; PMCID: PMC3015238.
  • Albert T Bach & Jeffery A Goad (2015) The role of community pharmacy-based vaccination in the USA: current practice and future directions, Integrated Pharmacy Research and Practice, 4:, 67-77, DOI: 10.2147/IPRP.S63822
  • Robin M. Weinick, Rachel M. Burns, and Ateev Mehrotra. Many Emergency Department Visits Could Be Managed At Urgent Care Centers And Retail Clinics. Health Affairs 2010 29:9, 1630-1636. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0748 
  • Levine DM, Landon BE, Linder JA. Quality and Experience of Outpatient Care in the United States for Adults With or Without Primary Care. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(3):363–372. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6716   
  • Macinko J, Starfield B, Shi L. Quantifying the Health Benefits of Primary Care Physician Supply in the United States. International Journal of Health Services. 2007;37(1):111-126. doi:10.2190/3431-G6T7-37M8-P224

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

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