Okay ladies - we know that going to the doctor can be a hassle (we totes get it), however, what if we told you that four simple preventive visits could probably save you a LOT of money (and stress) in the long-run? By keeping up with these preventive services, not only are you more likely to catch a medical issue before it gets too serious, but it also allows your doctor (and you) to get to better understand your body so that she/he/you are better able to identify when something isn’t right.
Something to be aware of…while these services are free if you stay in-network and meet the criteria (usually age) for coverage, it is easy for the coding on these services to change if you go off topic during your visit. Learn more about preventive (screening) vs diagnostic coding and check out this chart by the US Preventive Services Task Force.
1. ANNUAL PHYSICAL
Everyone should get an annual physical...I mean come on, it’s FREE! During your annual physical your doctor will typically:
Talk to you about your lifestyle and health history
Measure your height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature
Conduct a full body exam
Take a blood sample to run lab tests
Note: The tests that doctors run during an annual physical vary, however, you can always ask what your doctor usually test for when you make the appointment. Once you find out, compare those tests with your insurance company’s list of preventive services before visiting the doctor. Read this article on lab billing to learn more.
Your doctor should also use this time to recommend other preventive (and possibly diagnostic) services that you should receive based on your age, including mammograms and colonoscopies.
2. STANDARD IMMUNIZATION
Everyone should stay up to date with their immunizations. Your doctor can give you the schedule at your annual physical. If you have moved recently, bring records from your last office so your doctor isn’t left wondering where you are in your vaccine schedule.
3. WELL WOMAN VISIT
This includes basic physical exams plus a clinical breast exam and a pelvic exam. Your doctor may also recommend additional screenings including for HPV/cervical cancer, HIV ,or other STDs and/or depression.
Tip: While well woman visits are usually performed by an OBGYN, some Primary Care Providers (PCPs) will perform your well woman exam during your annual physical if you ask in advance.
4. SCREENING MAMMOGRAM
While the exact age to begin these screenings vary, you should consult with your doctor and your insurance company to begin them at the age they recommend. Check out this chart to see if you are approaching the right age.
Okay, okay, so we know we limited the list to four preventive services, however, here are some other visits you might want to add to your rotation. Just be sure to check with insurance - depending on your plan some of these services might be included for free, or may have a reasonable co-pay.
Dermatology Visit (usually subject to copay or deductible!)
Preventive Care Services By Insurance Company
As mentioned above, coverage varies based on the insurance company. Below are links to the preventive services page for some of the largest insurance companies in the country, along with the Healthcare.gov guidelines.
P.S. Here’s a reminder as to why you should always get an annual physical…:)