The last couple months have been a little surreal. That makes it the perfect opportunity to check in on your health goals and where you stand. The perfect way to do that? An annual checkup.
Many Americans resolve each year to become a healthier version of themselves. To help you do that this year, we’ve broken down healthy habits into monthly challenges to make these goals more doable.
For this month’s challenge, we encourage you to consider the importance of an annual checkup—and get yours scheduled for 2020 if you haven’t already.
While you may not be able to get to the doctor right now, even getting the appointment on the books is an important step in the right direction. Once you’ve got it scheduled, consider it an invaluable meeting and don’t cancel on yourself!
“People often think of visiting the doctor as something you only do when you’re feeling sick,” says W. Neil McKee, MD, internal medicine physician with West Tennessee Medical Group. “But in reality, seeing the doctor when you’re feeling at your best is incredibly beneficial. When we see patients regularly, we can help them take steps to avoid health problems down the line.”
Why a Checkup Is Important
If you’re feeling perfectly healthy, though, why should you see the doctor?
Well, consider this—most appliances and equipment, including your car, require regular maintenance checks to ensure they’re working at their best. These checks help to root out any underlying issues that could blossom into something bigger over time, and they also help to provide necessary services to promote overall performance.
Now, take that scenario and inject yourself into it. No, we are not saying you are like a car! You’re far more valuable than that.
But if you regularly take your car in for oil changes and maintenance checks, why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself and your health?
Having an annual checkup with your doctor offers many benefits, including:
- The ability to root out potential problems early. Your doctor can perform a physical examination and suggest age-appropriate tests that may spot health issues long before symptoms would emerge. This can lead to prompt treatment, which may be more effective and less costly in the long run.
- The opportunity to gain insight about healthy habits. At your annual checkup, take time to truly talk with your doctor about your lifestyle and any habits you think could use improvement. He or she can offer suggestions for improving your health and habits, as well as point you toward resources, like smoking cessation help, when needed. Your doctor can also talk with you about your family’s medical history and whether you should take action to lower your risk of developing health issues common among family members.
- A connection to specialty care. Let’s say you feel just fine overall, but are having some issues with dry skin. Or your feet hurt after being on them all day. Your doctor can not only help scope out your health issues and offer suggestions for care, but a primary care doctor can also serve as a go-between, connecting you with specialty care when needed.
- A way of keeping on track with recommended screenings and tests. Many preventive health services are covered free of cost under insurance plans, but a lot of people have no idea what services they need. Your doctor can talk you through which screenings and tests are appropriate for you based on your age, gender and personal and family health history.
Scheduling a Checkup
In most cases, one well-person checkup per year is covered under insurance plans. You can check in with your insurance provider for the specifics on your plan and whether you need to see certain in-network providers.
From there, if you don’t already have a primary care provider, search for one who’s a good fit. You don’t want your visits to be perfunctory—you want to truly form a relationship with your doctor so that you can feel comfortable at each visit.
Your doctor can be an advocate for your health and wellness, if you are sharing all the details about your health and lifestyle habits with him or her. So find someone you trust and value.
At your visit, take along a list of questions, if you have any. It’s your opportunity to find out information that can be invaluable for your health.
Having an annual well-person checkup is one of the best things you can do for your health. Schedule yours today if you haven’t had one yet this year! Find a provider here.