Why you Need a Primary Care Physician

While your health considerations may not require the attention of a doctor now, it is very important to develop a relationship with a primary care physician while living in Mexico.  The doctor will have some knowledge of your history and your treatment expectations so that in the event of illness or emergency you have a point of contact, rather than simply showing up in the emergency room or the offices of a doctor that was recommended by someone else.

Your primary care physician becomes your link to obtaining the best medical care for your condition.  He or she has a network of specialists with whom he works to help you manage your care.  In the event of a serious condition your primary care doctor may be in a better position to help you access the kind of treatment you need than the emergency room and when possible should be your first point of contact.  He or she is your ally in a medical system that functions differently than what you have come to expect in your home country.

In the event that you need unanticipated extensive care, such as immediate surgery or hospitalization, and you are not able to meet your immediate financial obligations, your primary care physician can be a point of contact for those who can take responsibility for assisting you in your financial needs at that time.  It is important that your doctor knows who will handle your economic concerns so that your hospitalization and related expenses are addressed, as most hospitals and attending physicians do require some form of payment at admission and at the time of service.

In the event of your death, the primary care physician is the first person contacted to sign the Death Certificate.  Doctors who are not familiar with your medical history are reluctant to sign a death certificate.  If there is no primary doctor, the process of signing the certificate and releasing your body can be delayed, creating undue stress to your family and friends who have to handle your affairs at this time.  Additionally, if you choose to be a member of the 24-Hour Association, a non-profit organization that offers prepaid services at the time of death (discussed below), you are required to have a primary care physician. The 24-Hour Association has additional information about the importance of having a Primary care Physician.

If you are planning on dying in Mexico, your primary care physician can provide you with support if he or she has a copy of your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (Living Will).  Because your physician will know your end-of-life choices, you are more likely to receive the quality of care you desire.

It is to your benefit to establish a relationship with a primary care physician as soon as possible so that you will have access to the best care available as quickly and safely as possible.

With thanks to Dr. Ricardo Gordillo for his editorial support.

11-10-12