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What is Annual Physical Exam?
A physical examination is a test your primary care provider (PCP) performs to check your overall health. A PCP may be a doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant. The annual physical exam can be a good time to ask your PCP questions about your health or discuss any changes or problems that you have noticed.
Your PCP also asked health questions about you, your parents, your grandparents, your siblings, and your children. Other information you’ll provide includes medications you take — both prescribed and over-the-counter — as well as any previous medical procedures, tests, doctors, and treatments.
There are different tests that can be performed during your physical examination. Depending on your age or medical or family history, your PCP may recommend additional testing. An annual physical exam is preventive care that provides you with the first line of defense against any unforeseen medical issues. This includes other preventive screening such as blood pressure, type 2 diabetes screening, cholesterol and lipid level, mammogram and many more.
It’s recommended that everyone get an annual physical exam, regardless of age or health. And yet, despite the fact that most people believe that it is an important aspect of their health care plan, many choose to skip the exam. They only go when something is wrong with them. However, that isn’t a good idea.
What is the Purpose of Annual Physical Exam?
The purpose of annual physical exam is to help your PCP to determine the general status of your health. The exam also gives you a chance to talk to them about any ongoing pain or symptoms that you’re experiencing or any other health concerns that you might have. These exams are used to:
- identify any issues that may become medical concerns in the future
- check for possible diseases so they can be treated early
- ensure that you are maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine
- build a relationship with your PCP
Is Annual Physical Exam Covered by Insurance?
An annual physical exam is typically covered by most health insurers, many of insurance companies offer it for free. However, bringing up new symptoms during your annual physical may lead to a bill or co-pay for your visit.
Not all preventive services are covered under your preventive benefits — different plans can have different lists of covered preventive health services. Even if your insurance company fully covers an annual visit or physical, you will still be responsible for part of the bill in this situation because you are receiving more than just preventive services.
Likewise, if you need to discuss management of an ongoing health problem that’s already been diagnosed, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, this will also lead to different billing.
What is Included in an Annual Physical Exam?
Your doctor will use a physical exam to see how your body is performing. Depending on your personal health history, test results and age, your doctor may choose to focus on certain areas. However, you should always consult with your insurance company for specific information about what your plan covers.
What is done during a physical exam? An average physical exam includes the following:
- Health history. Your doctor will update your personal and family medical history as well as determine your lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking (alcohol), sexual health, diet, and exercise.
- Vital signs. Most commonly taken by a nurse, this includes taking a blood pressure reading and checking your heart rate and respiratory rate.
- General appearance. Your doctor will review your appearance for signs of any potential conditions.
- Heart exam. Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, a doctor might detect an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.
- Lung exam. Your doctor listens for crackles, wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the presence of heart or lung disease.
- Laboratory test. Your doctor may order a complete blood count, chemistry panel or urinalysis to help detect irregularities in your body that might indicate a larger problem. They may also request a lipid panel (cholesterol test) if you have an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, or stroke.
- Visual exam tests – Your doctor will check the parts of your body that could visually indicate any existing health issues. This includes examining the following:
- musculoskeletal system, such as your hands and wrists
- nervous system functions, such as speech and walking
- Physical exam – Your doctor will use tools to look in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat. They’ll listen to your heart and lungs. This exam also includes:
- touching, or “palpating,” parts of your body (like your abdomen) to feel for abnormalities
- checking skin, hair, and nails
- possibly examining your genitalia and rectum
- testing your motor functions and reflexes
- Head and Neck Exam – Opening up and saying “ah” shows off your throat and tonsils. The quality of your teeth and gums also provides information about your overall health. Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries may also be examined.
Why is Annual Physical Exam Important?
From catching a condition before it turns life-threatening, to keeping you accountable for your health, your annual visit to your primary care doctor is more valuable than you might think. Here are a few reasons why annual physical exam is important for you:
Annual physical exam prevents future health complications.
This is arguably the most important reason to see your doctor every year. Preventative care is proven to increase longevity, as it allows your doctor to track your health and quickly identify any changes or typical activity.
An annual physical exam can provide advance warning of heart disease or cancer. In fact, can screening has become a routine part of physical examinations, especially for older adults. At the very least, your doctor can detect symptoms or unhealthy habits and work with you to make adjustments.
Annual physical exam helps you achieve or maintain a healthy lifestyle
Doctors can offer resources that can help you make other important changes like quitting smoking, eat a healthy balanced diet, eat right and exercise. They also supports you in your efforts to live healthily.
Annual physical exam saves money.
There are insurance companies that offers annual physical exam for free. It is an advantage for the people to have use it. The older we get, the more illness we will get as we age. But other people who doesn’t have insurance, sometimes avoid the doctor because we don’t want to pay for an appointment, if a doctor can nip a problem in the bud before it gets serious, you’ll save a lot of money on medical bills down the road.
Annual physical exam develops relationship and establish baselines with your doctor.
By developing a relationship with you when you’re well your doctor can establish a health baseline to better diagnose an illness when you’re sick. Regular physical exams help establish baselines for weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. These baselines help your physician monitor any progression or improvements in your health problems. Having a primary care home already in place can help you get faster treatment in the event of an illness.
Annual physical exam let’s you have the opportunity to update your vaccines.
Vaccinations aren’t just for kids. Adults need occasional booster shots for immunizations like tetanus. Vaccines need to be updated to make sure that you stay as healthy as possible. The tetanus is only good for ten years, so it is important to make sure that is up-to-date. You may also need vaccines for pneumonia, HPC, shingles, whooping cough and much more. Your doctor will be able to go over your options to make sure that you have the protection that you need.
You can receive a professional opinion in an annual physical exam.
Very often people are unaware of what is actually going on their bodies. It’s easy to go online and search for symptoms, leading to an assumption that you’ve contracted a rare type of disease or you’re suffering from an unusual ailment. But instead of self-diagnosing, it’s much wiser to seek medical advice from a medical provider. A physical exam can provide a golden opportunity to receive a sound, well-informed medical diagnosis and treatment advice from an experienced healthcare provider.
Your physician will review your medications.
Reviewing your medications with your physician, including over-the-counter-medications, will ensure you are treating your medical problems the best way available and will help prevent possible side effects of medications and possible medication interactions.
Medical costs for check-ups are less expensive than having to undergo treatments that could have been avoided in the first place. So, don’t let anxiety or procrastination get in the way of your health and prevent you from living the life you want.
At Premier Health and Wellness Center, we know the best way to manage your health is to have regular checkups with your doctor, so we will make the process as easy and convenient as possible.
Book your annual physical today! visit us at 38 King Street, Hamilton, Bermuda or request an appointment online.