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If you buy your own coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, you may be in for a pleasant surprise while comparing plans this year.

 

1. Copayments are going down.

Copayments to see a primary care physician – your main doctor who acts as your first point of contact for medical care – are going down across our Affordable Care Act plans. (A copayment is a fixed dollar amount you pay for a covered service at the time you receive it.)

How much lower depends on the type of plan you have. For most BCBSNC ACA plans, primary care payments will either be $5 or $10 in 2017. Currently they range from $5 to $30. Most, but not all, customers will see a decrease.

This change makes now a perfect time to find and get established with a primary care physician, if you haven’t already. It’s as easy as going to our online provider search. If you’re a BCBSNC customer logged into Blue Connect, you can find doctors and hospitals participating in the specific plan you have.

It’s clear that saving money is one of the best reasons to have a primary care doctor. Need other reasons? Here are two more good ones:

 

 

2. It’s Personal

Primary care is the best place to start for most of your health care needs. It’s where you get treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, get help with chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and receive preventive care and screenings. Some preventive care is covered at no out-of-pocket cost to customers.

One role the primary care physician plays is to learn your personal and family medical history. This means they’ll be equipped to help you make better decisions about the care that’s right for you.

 

 

3. It’s Efficient

When you visit your primary care doctor, there’s usually no need to go through a lot of paperwork or face hassles in trying to get an appointment.

Visits to primary care often take less time than other settings like the emergency room or urgent care. Wait times to see a primary care doctor average just 19 minutes, according to health care research firm Vitals. And some primary care offices offer same-day appointments as well as convenient hours.

Primary care office visits have typically been the lowest-cost way to seek most of the care you and your family need. That was true even before the new, lower copayments go into effect. But having a primary care physician has benefits that extend far beyond your wallet.

About Kyle Marshall

Kyle Marshall, a senior communications specialist at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, writes about the health care industry and provides communications counsel and support to the company's executive team.

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