Making Health Your First Resolution

Why are annual physical and wellness exams important?

For some patients, going in for an annual exam provides reassurance that they are healthy inside and out. For others, it’s a tool to manage health problems before they get out of control. The exam is your chance to meet your provider when you are well and create a plan to keep you that way. What’s more, under most insurance plans, the annual exam is one of the only medical services not subject to deductibles. That means no out-of-pocket expense for most patients.

What makes an annual exam different is that you and your doctor are examining you as a whole person rather than a current set of symptoms. During the history portion of the visit, you have a chance to voice immediate concerns, and your doctor will quiz you to decide what to focus on for the year. The doctor will want to know about your personal and family health history in order to determine what may apply to you or affect you. He or she will want to know of any changes in your health since your last exam.

It’s important to look for connections between your lifestyle choices and your health. Are you exposed to dangers at work? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? Do you have an exercise program? Are your relationships healthy? The annual exam is also an opportunity to review your allergies and any medications or supplements you are taking. Are you at risk for an adverse drug interaction?

Your doctor may also want to ensure that you are current on other checkups such as eye exams and dental visits. This is an opportunity to plan any needed prescription refills for the year so you don’t have to manage this on your own. Do you need any preventive screenings based on your age, gender or condition, such as a Pap test, colonoscopy, mammogram, bone density screening or prostate exam?

Finally, this is your chance to review what many forget: living wills, emergency contacts and health care surrogates. This exploratory interview with your doctor jogs your memory about points you may have otherwise forgotten to bring up and helps you and your doctor create a personalized care plan.

Preventive screenings are typically covered by your insurance.

Your annual wellness exam provides you and your doctor the opportunity to assess and monitor your overall health. And, because it’s the one service that insurance doesn’t apply to your deductible, the beginning of the year is the best time to get your annual exam. Be sure to review what your plan covers and confirm that you are eligible to receive services.

Sound Family Medicine welcomes the opportunity to care for your family!