Checkups should be a regular part of your health routine, but it can be confusing to know how often you should go. We all know to visit the doctor when a new symptom or illness arises, but for general wellness visits, that can be harder to determine.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that people have a checkup at least once every year. However, some people may need to see their physician more often, depending on their health status. People with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, for example, may need to see their doctor more than once a year.
Your chckup should include a physical exam, which involves taking your blood pressure and weighing you. Your physician may also talk to you about any symptoms or side effects you've been experiencing and discuss any health concerns that you have. Other tests may be done as well, depending on your age and medical history. For example, women over the age of 50 will want to discuss breast exams and start scheduling mammograms based on their physician's recommendation.
During the exam, your physician will likely:
Your primary care physician will also evaluate your risk for certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, and make recommendations on how to manage these conditions if necessary.
Checkups or physicals are generally covered by most insurance plans, no matter your age. Many insurance plans cover one physical or wellness visit a year. If you have Medicare, you're may be covered for an initial wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan. Contact your healthcare provider to find out more information on coverage.
During your initial Medicare wellness checkup, your physician will measure your height, weight, body mass, blood pressure, and heart rate. The rest is a discussion of your and your family's medical history, any physical or mental limitations, and risk factors for diabetes and depression.
Your “Welcome to Medicare” exam is a checkup that provides a picture of your current health as a starting point for future annual visits and is meant as a preventative service —allowing you to early detect potentially dangerous or chronic health issues. Your physician can create a personalized healthcare plan for you and verify that you are up to date on preventive tests including cancer screenings and flu—often completely covered by Medicare.
Note: You don't need to have had a "Welcome to Medicare" examination to qualify for future wellness visits, however your first 12 months in Part B will not be reimbursed.
If you have any ongoing medical concerns or questions about your health, it is always important to bring them up with your doctor during your checkup. As we grow older, chronic or more serious health conditions may become more common. However, with early detection and treatment, many of these conditions can be managed effectively. Medicare provides coverage for a wide range of preventive services that can help you maintain your health and avoid more serious problems down the road.
Content contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new fitness or dietary plan. References provided are for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Should you have any health-related questions, you should contact your health care provider.