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Millennials, Don't Make this Costly Medical Mistake

There is one simple step that can lower health care costs and make it more likely to identify health issues early on – and that is going to a primary care doctor.

Yet, per the most recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of millennials do not have a primary care provider (PCP).

When faced with a medical situation, millennials usually go to a local urgent care center or emergency room, rather than a PCP— but doing so comes with a higher cost.
Tom Troike, Senior Benefits Consultant, Bethesda, MD


When faced with a medical situation, millennials usually go to a local urgent care center or emergency room, rather than a PCP— but doing so comes with a higher cost. This demographic is also prone to replace routine check-ups with telemedicine, which is meant for one-off medical situations rather than long-term care.

What are the risks of not having a PCP?

There are many benefits to having a primary care doctor. They conduct routine checks for chronic conditions, detect problems early on, recommend advanced care and teach healthy habits. And outside of prioritizing your health, having a primary care doctor is beneficial financially.

Primary care is significantly less expensive than urgent care and the emergency room. The average co-pay cost for a primary care generalist is around $25, while urgent care might run you $100, and the emergency room could be upwards of $1,000 depending on your insurance.

Visiting a primary care doctor regularly means you’re more likely to catch signs of diseases early on before they become more serious. This will help keep you out of the hospital, and help you avoid higher hospital costs.

Studies show that having a primary care doctor means you are more likely to live a longer, healthier life. Having a primary care doctor who you see consistently will be better able to assess your overall health and have a full understanding of your family medical history, lifestyle habits, medications, and medical preferences. They may also be more likely to help identify when something is wrong because they have consistently monitored your health.

How to choose a PCP

To be comfortable and develop a long-term relationship, it’s important to find a doctor who is qualified, fits your personality and accepts your insurance plan. If you’re not sure where to start, visit your health carrier’s website to search for doctors who are “in network”, which just means you’ll pay less out of pocket.

Nowadays you can find anything online, so do a quick search to see other patient reviews and the doctors’ credentials.

Once you find a doctor, set up an appointment to get a feel for whether they are the right fit. Your first appointment will be a preventative well visit, which is 100% covered under the Affordable Care Act.

And don’t worry, your doctor isn’t set in stone. If you decide the doctor you picked isn’t the right fit, most health plans allow you to change primary care doctors at any point.

Looking for more ways to save on healthcare costs? Make the most out of your healthcare plan with these saving tips:

  • Wait to Pay Your Bills:

    Don’t pay your healthcare bills without first reviewing your insurance carrier’s “explanation of benefits” (EOB). If you pay immediately when you receive a bill from the doctor, you're likely to be billed at the automatic rate. But it takes time for your bill to run through the carrier system and reflect your proper discount, so if you pay upfront, you could be paying 40-60 percent more than you should. Instead, you should wait until the discount is applied and the updated doctor’s bill is mailed (matching the EOB). Don’t be pressured to pay the doctor’s bill until they match.

  • Know Where To Go:

    Out of pocket costs at the doctor’s office, urgent care and ER differ greatly. In general, you shouldn’t go to the ER unless you are facing a life-threatening situation. If you need help determining which type of care is most suitable for your specific case, call your insurance provider. Most have 24/7 nurse lines that will direct you where to go and how to make the most cost-effective decision.

You can watch the Coffee Break with OneDigital video featuring Tom Troike here

If you’re looking for more great health care content, visit our Health Care Happenings podcast series.