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what-is-a-comprehensive-physical-examMedical Checkups for Preventative Care

It used to be that people to annual checkups seriously. Going to the doctor once a year was something you just did. In the past few decades, well patient visits to doctors have declined dramatically. This is certainly due in part to the rising costs of health care. Fewer insurance companies are willing to pay for annual checkups, and people are generally less interested to going to the doctor. Exactly what is a comprehensive physical exam, and is it really important?

Check-Ups for the Whole Family         

There are plenty of people who see annual checkups as a waste of time. Some people argue that they if they feel fine and take good care of themselves, they need only see a doctor when they are ill. This couldn't be further from the truth.

An annual comprehensive physical exam by a qualified medical professional can not only end up saving money, it can also save lives. At an annual physical, your doctor will talk to you about any health concerns you have, check your vital signs, take blood for cholesterol measurements and address health problems she finds. There are plenty of serious illnesses that don't manifest themselves dramatically to the untrained eye. Among them are some of the world's leading killers: diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Your doctor knows the precursors of these diseases and will be able to detect them far earlier than a layman could.

Why Annual Physicals are Important

  • Many serious conditions like hypertension, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol and melanoma are asymptomatic and difficult to diagnose without medical training.
  • Visiting your doctor while you are well will give her a more holistic picture of what's "normal" for you. By seeing you well, she's more likely to notice when you might be ill.
  • As you age, you body's needs change. Annual physicals give your medical provider a chance to prepare you for what's next for your body.

Additionally, getting a comprehensive physical once a year can actually save money. While you may be required to make a co pay at the visit, catching a potentially dangerous (and expensive) disease or disorder early will increase the chances of successful treatment or even prevent the disease from occurring. In fact, some insurance providers actually offer a free annual doctor's exam as a way of encouraging their clientele to remain healthy.

Physicals for Children

It's also important to take children in for regular medical checkups. While the diseases that plague older people are often not a problem for kids, a pediatrician or family practice doctor can spot developmental problems that many parents miss. A kid's physical exam is also a great chance to ensure that your child is current on all vaccinations.

Cost of Physicals

If your insurance coverage for annual physical exams isn't free, the cost of physical exams is usually low. Even if your insurance offers no coverage, you can often find affordable options, often for less than $100. Talk to your doctor about your situation and see what she suggests. She may be able to give you a discount or work out another option. Sometimes your employer may offer to pay for the exam or at least give a discount for employees enrolled in special health programs. You can also use any tax-deferred health care funds for annual physicals. Whatever you do, try to make your health a priority by scheduling annual checkups for the whole family.

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