Choosing a doctor

Finding a doctor you trust is an important part of staying healthy. You're more likely to schedule regular appointments. And you'll be more comfortable asking questions about your health.

Depending on your plan, you'll likely pay less if you use a doctor in your plan's network. In some plans, you may be required to choose a primary care doctor to coordinate your health care.

Determine if your doctor is in the network

You'll probably pay less when you visit doctors or other health care professionals in your plan's network. Already a UnitedHealthcare plan member? See if your doctor is in the network.

Why do you need a primary care doctor?

Choosing a primary care doctor is something many health plans require. But, even if your plan doesn't require it, finding one is a good idea. Why? When you see the same doctor who knows you and your medical history, that person can help coordinate your care. For example, your primary care doctor:

  • Treats routine illnesses
  • Performs regular check-ups and screenings
  • Is your first call for health concerns
  • Refers you to specialists when you require further tests or care

How to select a primary care doctor

It's important to find a primary care doctor that is right for you. Rather than randomly picking someone from your plan's network, consider these steps:

  • Ask for referrals from friends and family. Then check to see if those doctors are in your plan's network.
  • Search your plan's network for doctors whose locations are convenient for you and your family.
  • Research the doctor's education, certification and performance history. (Websites like and are great resources for this.) Also, check your health plan to see which doctors have been specially designated for quality and/or cost efficiency.
  • Call the doctors on your list to find out more about things like cancellation and payment policies and after-hour health concerns.
  • Find out who covers for your doctor when he or she is not available.
  • Schedule an appointment with your top choice to go over your medical history, discuss your health concerns and determine if it's a good fit.

Types of doctors

Depending on your situation, you may choose different primary care providers for each member of the family.

Family or general practitioner

These doctors care for a wide range of health concerns and may be able to treat family members of any age.


Internists treat adults and may have additional training in specialties, such as cardiology.

OB/GYN (obstetrics/gynecology)

These practitioners specialize in women's health, including pregnancy and childbirth.


Pediatricians specialize in health care for children and adolescents.


These doctors focus on health care for older adults.

Search for UnitedHealth Premium® physicians

Not all health care is equal, and that can affect the care you receive. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, "adults receive the recommended medical treatment only 55 percent of the time."1 That's why UnitedHealthcare developed the UnitedHealth Premium® designation program, which recognizes physicians that meet guidelines for providing quality and cost-efficient care.

The program uses national standardized measures to evaluate for quality and local geographic area benchmarks for cost efficiency across 16 specialties and 47 credentialed specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, cardiology and orthopedics.

The designation results are displayed in UnitedHealthcare's physician directories (e.g., to support informed decision-making by members when making health care choices and by physicians when making referrals.

More information on the UnitedHealth Premium program.


  1. Asch, Steven M. et al. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2006 March 16; 354: 1147-1156.