The Importance of the Primary Care Doctor: Everybody Should Have One


Many people know their Primary Care Provider (PCP) as their "Family Doctor."

A primary care doctor (PCP) is that person who should be your first contact when you are sick and to also help maintain any other health conditions you or your family may have. Your primary care doctor will help you and your family stay well, and treat you when you have many common illnesses. If your PCP diagnoses you with a more serious problem, he or she is the best person to help you coordinate any next steps to see a specialist.

Medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases can be managed by your PCP with the right medication and tools so that YOU can be in charge of your disease every day. Your PCP is the exactly the right person to refill your medications and address any new problems, but remember… Primary care is always your best choice unless your injury or illness is life threatening.

Primary care is easier on your pocketbook and makes good “cents"

Whether you have insurance or paying out of pocket, Emergency Room care costs more than Primary Care. Did you know that you could pay up to three times as much for care you get in the ER, compared to what you would have paid at the doctor’s office?

In more than half of the time, studies show that what people go to the ER for, could have been better taken care of by a primary care doctor.

Your primary care doctor and the emergency room. What is the difference?

Primary care

  • Is familiar with your health, your lifestyle and your family’s health – info that will help your doctor take the best care of you
  • Can teach you how to prevent or lessen the effects of serious health problems
  • Can help you get the skills and knowledge you need to manage your chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure to improve your quality of life
  • Can refer you to the right specialty doctor when you need it

Can help with:

  • Colds, coughs and sore throats
  • Bladder problems
  • Dehydration (your body needs fluids), upset stomach, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Ear aches
  • Eye problems
  • Fever or flu with upset stomach, vomiting, loose stool, diarrhea (if under 6 months of age, go to the ER)
  • Minor asthma or asthma like symptoms, diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Minor cuts or animal bites where bleeding is controlled
  • Minor sprains or broken bones (but if the bone is showing or limb is deformed, go straight to the ER)
  • Skin rashes, sunburns or minor burns, such as from the stove
  • Offers care that costs less than the ER, and often with less of a wait time

To find a primary care doctor near you, please visit our Provider Directory .

Emergency room (ER)

The ER is a department within a hospital that is set up and staffed to provide quick treatment of life threatening injuries or illness. Please go to your nearest ER if you are experiencing:

  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Problems with pregnancy
  • Complex broken bones or bleeding
  • Other serious medical issues

If you don’t have health insurance

There are many free clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers that can help.

Urgent care centers

When your doctor’s office is closed, urgent care is the next best choice. Urgent care centers are walk-in clinics that offer non-urgent or semi-urgent care outside of a hospital ER. No appointment is needed, and the cost is often less than care at an ER. Urgent care is not meant to replace primary care. Review a list of urgent care centers in metro Detroit.


Family Medicine Locations

Not Every Care Is an Emergency

HFHS Urgent Care

HFHS Emergency Care Locations

Have pricing questions?

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