So you think there are so many types of doctors that it’s confusing to know where to go. Deciding is really much simpler than it seems. Knowing specifically where to go can help you save time and treat whatever is happening to you even faster.
Let’s start by defining the three types of doctors. There are generalists, specialists and subspecialists. A generalist is a frontline doctor. The first doctor you go see when something bothers you or when you start to feel bad, but you do not know what‘s wrong. Many normally categorize them as PCPs or primary care physicians. This doctor knows your medical history, from that heartburn you used to get; to that time you broke your leg.
Specialists are doctors who decided to continue their studies to specialize in something specific. Who are specialists? Surgeons, endocrinologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, pediatricians and geriatricians, just to mention a few. For example, if you’re a pregnant woman, you go to an OB/GYN for all your checkups. Here you go directly to a specialist unless you went to a PCP before you knew you were pregnant, to check that dizziness that wouldn’t go away.
A subspecialist is a physician who specializes in a specific aspect within their area. Who are subspecialists? Neuroanesthesiologists, orthopedists, urologists, otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists, neonatologists and pediatric surgeons, among many others. But back to the pregnancy example, say the baby was born premature. During his first 28 days of life, he will be taken care of by a neonatologist who will monitor that everything is under control. As mentioned earlier, this is a subspecialty of pediatrics.
If you have a specific condition that you can identify and know the specialist related to said condition, you can go directly to the specialist. He will refer you to a subspecialist if there was a need for it. If, however, you have a general malaise or other symptoms that could come from different conditions, it is a good idea to visit a primary care physician who orders tests to diagnose and assist you or refer you to a specialist, depending on your results.
When you are looking for a health plan, you must make sure that it includes coverage for these three types of doctors. With Triple-S, you can find the information on the very card with the copayment for each type of doctor. Do your research and avoid surprises in the future.