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. Annual physical exams are an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship. It is your chance to meet your provider when you are well and create a plan to keep you that way. What’s more, insurance companies find value in annual exams also; it’s one of the only medical services that is not subject to deductible under most plans. 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/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 use 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 like eye exams and dental visits. This is a great opportunity to plan any needed refills for the year so that you do not have to manage this on your own. Do you need any preventive screenings based on your age, gender or condition – pap smear, colonoscopy, mammogram, bone density screening, prostate exam? Last but not least, 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 things you may have otherwise forgotten to bring up, and helps you and your doctor create a personalized care plan, just for you.
Preventative 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. While most insurance pays for one preventive visit per year, we suggest reviewing what your plan covers and confirm that you are eligible to receive services. Then, give us a call at 253-848-5951 or log in to your online mySFM account to schedule your annual physical.
You can also learn more about how often you should see your doctor here.