We're committed to providing care that's easy to obtain and meets your needs. The questions and answers below give you important information about choosing doctors, in network specialists, and much more.
What is a Primary Care Physician (PCP)?
Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) include doctors and Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners in family practice, general practice, internal medicine or pediatrics. Your PCP is the best resource to help you access the health care system. Members are required to choose a PCP to manage their health care needs and are encouraged to do so as soon as they enroll. Most members can choose a PCP that works either at a medical group practice or an office that is convenient for them, and change their PCP at any time, for any reason. In addition, each family member can have a different PCP.
Your PCP will:
- Provide most of your health care, including hospital admissions
- Refer you to specialists when needed
Can I choose a PCP now?
Yes, you can. Choosing a PCP as soon as possible makes it easier for you to receive care once you are a member. If you are already a member, look on your EmblemHealth ID card. Your PCP's name and phone number are printed on the front of the card. If the name that appears is not the PCP you selected, or if no name appears, you can change or select your PCP online. Sign in to your myEmblemHealth account to search and select a new PCP. Your change will be effective immediately. If you need help, call the Customer Service line at 1-855-283-2146.
Note: Some members have special procedures they must follow for changing their PCP.
Do I need a referral to see a specialist?
No. You do not need a referral from your PCP to see an in network specialist. You must see a specialist who participates in your network*. There are some treatments and services that your PCP must ask EmblemHealth to approve before you can get them. Your PCP will be able to tell you what they are.
You can get the following specialty services without prior approval:
- Chemical dependence assessments and treatments for alcohol and substance abuse
- Dental services
- Eye exams and eyeglasses
- Mental health assessments and treatments
- Midwife services
- OB services (prenatal care)
- GYN services (such as family planning, sexually transmitted disease services and routine women's health care, such as breast and pelvic exams and mammographies)
- Emergency care
In addition to the services listed above, Medicaid and CHPlus members can also obtain immunizations, TB and HIV counseling, and testing services from public health clinics without plan approval.
Medicaid members may also get the following services from any provider that will accept their Medicaid card:
- Family planning, reproductive health services.
- Services covered by regular Medicaid that are not covered by EmblemHealth.
Please refer to the Medicaid Member Handbook for a complete listing of these services.
* Except in an emergency or if you received prior authorization from EmblemHealth.
Should I choose a PCP practicing at a physician group practice or one that works in a neighborhood office?
Whichever is more convenient for you. Many members choose a PCP in one of our group practices, where members can see their PCP and specialists all under one roof. Other covered services are also available in the same location. Other members choose a PCP in a neighborhood office because the office is near their home or they know the doctor. The online provider directory lists network doctors in both types of settings.
Will I have to get approval from the plan before getting care?
You do not need approval before you get care from your PCP. However, certain covered services do require prior approval from EmblemHealth. Your Member Handbook lists these services. When your PCP refers you for services, he or she will get the approvals for you, when needed.
How long does it usually take to get an appointment with a network doctor?
In emergencies, you can get care right away. In urgent situations, you can get an appointment within 24 hours. Just call your PCP. The wait time for other appointments depends on:
- The type of appointment (routine care or sick care)
- The type of doctor you are seeing (PCP or specialist)
- The level of urgency
Your Member Handbook lists the appointment standards that all of our network doctors must follow, including:
- Urgent care – Within 24 hours of calling your doctor for a visit
- Non-urgent sick visits – Within 48 to 72 hours from calling your doctor
- Routine care – Within four weeks from calling your doctor
These time frames are consistent with industry norms. We advise calling well in advance to schedule your annual physical exam because it requires more time than other appointments.
How do I get help in an emergency?
Call 911 or go to the emergency room. Be prepared for emergencies ahead of time by learning what you can do if one occurs. Check the "Emergency Care" section of your Member Handbook before you have a problem. This section can help you understand what is meant by "emergency." If you do not have an emergency, call your PCP's office to get the care you need. You can call your PCP 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When in need of medical attention that is not life threatening, consider our Urgent Care Centers.
Find an urgent care center