No one wants to get sick, especially with a chronic disease. So, why have we been taught to wait until we are sick to go to the doctor when we could have prevented contracting a disease by getting preventive care? It may sound counterintuitive but going to the doctor when you are healthy is the best way to prevent diseases from negatively affecting your health. Preventive care visits can extend your lifespan, knock diseases out before they become a problem, and save you money over the long run.
If you aren’t already going in for an annual check-up or a wellness exam. And you are wondering why you should and what happens when you do. Read on! We’re here to answer all of your preventive care questions.
What is Preventive Care?
Let’s start with a definition. Preventive care encompasses any medical service that prevents and defends against health emergencies.
Preventive care services include:
- Doctor visits such as annual physicals, well-woman appointments, and dental cleanings
- Medicines that are preventive like immunizations, contraception, and allergy medications
- Screenings like pap smears and tests for skin cancer, HPV, high cholesterol, and colonoscopies
Preventive care can also include:
- A healthy lifestyle
- Diet and nutrition
These effective preventive measures can help you maintain wellness and good health and nip any problem in the bud before it becomes catastrophic.
Why Would I Go to the Doctor If I Am Perfectly Healthy?
Did you know that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that 7 out of 10 Americans die each year from chronic diseases? And that many of these diseases are preventable? Diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are preventable and treatable when caught early.
What Are the Benefits of Preventive Care?
- The first is that preventive care can catch and treat a disease before it even starts. We now have various screenings and tests to detect a disease before it starts. If you start treatment or make lifestyle changes before the onset of or during the early stages of certain diseases, you can stay healthier or recover more quickly.
- The second is that preventive care saves money over the long run. By catching diseases in the early stages while they are more easily treatable, preventive care lowers the long-term cost of managing that disease. In 2008, the Trust for America’s Health predicted that there is a return of $5.60 for every $1 spent on proven preventive care strategies in America. That’s a significant saving!
- The third is that you are more likely to stay healthy well into your senior years by taking preventive care measures. Did you know that health care problems force an average of 35% of retired people into early retirement before they are financially ready? Treating diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart conditions before they become a problem can ensure that you don’t get taken out of the race before you are ready.
What’s the Difference Between a Preventive Visit and an Office Visit?
A preventive visit focuses on screening and testing for potential issues. An in-office visit is about getting well. A regular office visit focuses on new or existing health issues, concerns, worries, or symptoms.
What Happens At a Preventive Visit?
During a preventive appointment, your provider will review your overall health and well-being.
Depending on your age, the visit may include:
- Taking a complete medical history
- Performing a complete physical exam
- Reviewing and updating immunizations
- Performing age-appropriate heart disease screenings like blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol tests
- Administering cancer risk screenings like pelvic exams, Pap smears, prostate, and colorectal screenings
- Testing for sexually transmitted diseases
- Evaluating any signs of depression or mental health issues
- Counseling for alcohol, depression, obesity, and tobacco
If any red flags come up, you and your provider will discuss care areas, lifestyle and habit modifications, and any medications or supplements that could support you in your long-term health plan. Often patients only discover conditions like high blood pressure, HPV, or high cholesterol by coming in for a routine wellness visit. These conditions can be “silent killers,” so it’s crucial to catch them early with screenings.
How Often do You Need to Come in for Preventive Visits?
It depends on your individual situation. Your doctor will consider certain factors when deciding how often you need to come in for preventive visits.
Does My Insurance Cover Preventive Care?
Yes! You don’t have to be a millionaire to get preventive care. Insurance companies are now required to cover preventive services at no cost to patients. However, you will need to check with your insurance provider to ensure that your policy includes your doctor or clinic.
Preventive care services include:
Annual physicals, well-child exams, well-woman exams, medicare wellness exams, and welcome to medicare visits are all considered preventive visits.
Certain medications used for preventive purposes like statins are covered by insurance.
Counseling for obesity, sexually transmitted infection prevention, alcohol misuse, and diets are covered.
Immunization Vaccines and Screenings
A full list of the vaccines, screenings, and lab tests that are covered can be found here.
You can find more information on what preventive care services the government requires insurance companies to cover here:
You may not have control over everything, but you can lower your odds of becoming another statistic. By taking good care of your body, going in for regular preventive care visits, and working in partnership with a healthcare provider, you can minimize your risks, delay or stop the onset of chronic diseases, and save money.
At Phoenix Integrative Medical Center, we practice integrative medicine. Our goal is to work with you to address the underlying cause of disease as early on as possible so that we can keep your body working at its best. Contact us for an appointment for a preventive visit today!