This New Yorker article by Atul Gowande emphasizes how important it is — and how life-extending — to have a strong and lasting relationship with your primary care physician. Incremental care at the primary level can do more to promote health and well-being than heroic surgeries and other interventions by specialists after a problem has been neglected.
Unfortunately, the incentives in our health care system work against primary care. Surgeons and specialists earn twice as much as primary care physicians, discouraging medical students from pursuing primary care or elder care careers. Meanwhile, deductibles and co-pays can discourage people from making regular doctor visits. Looming changes to the Affordable Care Act and Medicare may make the situation worse.
As usual with Gowande, the article is extremely well written, and chock full of interesting medical anecdotes.