Make the Most of Prevention

These days, virtually all health insurance plans provide full coverage for one preventive care visit each year. That means an annual physical and related tests and screenings typically are covered with no deductible or copay. So, you really have no excuse for not making an annual physical an actual annual event. Following are some tips that will help you make the most of that doctor’s visit.

  • Go in healthy. Don’t wait until you’re sick to make an appointment. Seeing the doctor when you’re healthy means they can get a true sense of your general health.
  • Go in ready. Before you see your provider, make a list of your health questions, recent health worries or recurring aches and pains. Talk through that list during your visit.
  • Bring a list of your medicine and health history. Having up-to-date information about your health history, allergies and any medicines you take regularly (including non-prescription medicines or alternative therapies) will help you get the best care.
  • Bring a list of care providers. Share with your caregiver the names of other doctors or providers you see.
  • Expect questions. Your provider should ask a LOT of questions about your overall health as well about things like alcohol and tobacco use, depression, your stress level and more.
  • Get your shots. Annual flu shots and other immunizations typically will be part of a preventive care visit.
  • Expect tests. Your provider likely will order tests as part of the exam (cholesterol and blood sugar tests, colonoscopies, prostate exams for men, pap tests and mammograms for women, etc.) that might need to be done at another facility. Some tests might not be covered by your health insurance, so be sure to check your benefits to know what to expect.
  • Ask questions. If your provider doesn’t make recommendations about ways you can live healthier, ask.
  • Get it in writing. Take a notebook to write down information, instructions and advice, or ask your provider to give you information in writing.
  • Stay on point or pay. If you do raise an immediate health concern that requires treatment during a covered preventive care visit, your provider will probably charge you for that part of the visit separately.

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