Why Annual Physicals Are So Important

Why Annual Physicals Are So Important text overlaying image of a nurse in an exam roomMany people do not see the importance in scheduling an annual physical, especially if they’re in good health. However, regular exams are essential to your continued health no matter what age you are. These exams allow your doctors to monitor your health, make necessary adjustments to your medications, and prevent serious health conditions from developing or worsening. Annual exams don’t only help you get healthy but they can also save your life. 

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What To Expect From Your Annual Physical

An annual physical is a general checkup that looks at your health as a whole. Your PCP will look at your medical history as well as your vital signs such as your heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. During the visit your doctor will also give you a full physical check. Depending on how old you are and how healthy, your doctor may order more tests. These could include things like cholesterol and blood sugar tests from a lab. It may also include ultrasound tests to check for breast cancer, lung cancer and osteoporosis.

 

Your doctor will be able to look for common problems that come with aging and make treatment plans if needed. During your physical exam you can also talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to be healthier. Such as advice on nutrition and exercise. There are several essential reasons to use your yearly physical exam. 

Establishing Your Health Baseline

One of the more important things about getting regular physicals is that you and your doctor can learn more about your current health and spot any risks early on. Over time your doctor will check and monitor each of your vitals at each visit. This establishes your health baseline letting your doctor become familiar with what your body’s “normal” is. It helps your doctor know you and your body so they can spot any unhealthy trends early. They will keep an eye out for any significant changes to your health so they can treat it immediately. 

Updating Your Vaccines

Vaccines are not just something that kids need. Adults also need to make sure they’re up to date on them as well. Your doctor will keep track of these vaccines at your physical exam and let you know when it’s time to update them:

 

  • Covid-19 vaccine and boosters This vaccine helps people from getting sick or dying from COVID. Everyone age 5 and up should get the vaccine as well as the booster shots as they become available. 
  • TDAP vaccine – The TDAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough). This is a shot you get as a kid but adults need a repeat shot every so often. And pregnant women need this shot every pregnancy. 
  • Flu shot – Flu shots are recommended every year from the time you turn 6 months old. 
  • HPV vaccine Cancers caused by the human papillomavirus are stopped by the HPV vaccine. In the past few years, the advice that girls and boys ages 11 to 12 get an HPV shot hasn’t changed. But the CDC now says that all women and men up to age 26 should get a catch-up HPV shot. Adults between the ages of 27 and 45 who haven’t gotten the vaccine before might also benefit from a “catch-up” shot.
  • Pneumonia vaccine – If you have asthma, smoke, or are over 65, your primary care doctor (PCP) may suggest the pneumonia vaccine to keep you from getting a lung illness. 
  • Shingles vaccine – Almost anyone 50 and older is encouraged to get the shingles vaccine every 5 years.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine – If you have diabetes or another disease that affects your immune system, work in the healthcare field, or live in a group setting like a nursing home, your doctor may suggest that you get the hepatitis B vaccine.

Medication Management.

Any medication that you take every day can sometimes need to be adjusted. This can happen due to your body building an immunity to the medication or your health declining. Your doctor will look over your medications at your annual physical as well as consider any new symptoms you’ve discussed during the visit to decide if they need to increase, stop, or add medications to your treatment plan. They will also monitor to make sure you never take 2 medications that will negatively affect each other. 

Updating Medical Records

Your medical records aren’t just paperwork. These records keep an in-depth record of your health history so that it’s easy to compare your current health to the past to help identify health trends. Your Medical records include things like:

 

  • History of medication changes
  • Allergies
  • Vaccines
  • Family health history
  • Past surgeries
  • Treatment plans
  • Test results
  • Weight loss/gain trends
  • Current health conditions

These records also come in handy if you switch doctors or need to see a specialist, your new doctor will have all the information they need to treat you properly. Medical records are also extremely important in an emergency situation. If you’re unable to speak, your records can help emergency room doctors and surgeons treat you accurately and quickly without accidentally making any health conditions worse. Such as giving you a medicine you are allergic to or that will react badly with current medications. As well as let them know any existing conditions that they might need to be aware of during an emergency surgery.

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Building Trust With Your Doctor

Your PCP is your partner in health care. An annual physical check is a great way to get to know your PCP and let your provider get to know you. This one-on-one time with your doctor is a great way to connect and build trust with your doctor. Even if you see your primary care provider for minor illnesses and injuries at other times of the year, these “sick-care” visits are generally about treating specific problems.

 

During your yearly physical, your health as a whole and the preventive care you need to stay healthy are the main concerns. In addition to learning more about you and how you live, your PCP will give you plenty of time to talk about any worries or questions you may have about medications, treatment plans, or other health problems. The American healthcare system can be complicated, so having a doctor you trust to guide you through it is invaluable.

Saving Money

Some people say that getting a checkup once a year is a waste of money, however getting a checkup once a year at the office of your general care doctor can save you money in the long run. Getting a physical once a year can help keep medical costs down in the future. If your doctor finds a disease or sickness before you feel sick, it will cost less to treat you than if you wait until you feel sick. It’s easier and cheaper to stop a problem from happening than to fix it afterward. Early diagnosis is important for both your health and your bank account. When you make an appointment for your yearly physical, you’re making a cost-effective choice.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Physical Exam

If you only see your doctor once a year, make the most of it by knowing your family’s medical background and telling your doctor about it. Tell your doctor if someone in your family has been told they have a sickness or cancer. Also, bring a list or a bag with you that has all of the medicines and vitamins you take. This will help your doctor check for possible drug combinations and make sure you are taking the right amount of each drug. Don’t be afraid to talk about changes in your health, even if you think they are small. Some examples would be changes in how you sleep, what you eat, or how you feel. Don’t just worry about your physical health and forget about your mental health.

Getting Health Insurance

Preventative care is a “freebie” built into almost all health plans. Meaning these yearly exams are often free with the right health insurance. A qualified EZ insurance agent can explain what each health plan’s pros and cons are. And help you come up with the plan that works best for you. Working with an agent saves you time and stress because you don’t have to try to figure out legal jargon or read small print. Agents do all the hard work, so you can relax knowing that your coverage will meet your financial and medical needs the best. 

 

Not to mention that EZ agents can save you hundreds of dollars a year on your health insurance bills. We do this by being able to look for the cheapest rates both on and off the market. Our agents can also find and use any savings you might be able to get. We don’t just help you find a plan, though, we also help you keep it up to date. We can help you make claims with your insurance company and help you renew your policy when it’s time. To get started, just type your zip code into the box below or call 877-670-3557 to talk to one of our certified agents.

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Reasons You Will Love Medicare

When you enroll in Medicare, you might find there are things you don’t love about it, like the out-of-pocket expenses of Part B or the lack of dental, vision, and prescription coverage. However, despite the bad rap it gets, a recent survey showed that 90% of beneficiaries are happy with the care it provides, and with their coverage choices. If you take the time to review all your coverage options, and find out how it differs from your employer’s coverage, you’ll find that Medicare has a lot to offer. Here are just some of the reasons why you will love it.

Lower Premiumspiles of coins going up in numbers.

With Medicare, you’ll save money on monthly premiums. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums are free, as long as you meet the requirements of having worked at least 40 calendar quarters in a job where you paid social security taxes. Part B (medical insurance) premiums are about $144.60 a month. When you compare this to the cost of private insurance, you will find that you’ll be paying a lot less. Even for a healthy 25-year old, monthly premiums will cost around $300 a month under private plans.

Medicare prices also rise more slowly than health insurance plans because they are pegged to inflation. Since 2013, private health insurance premiums have increased 123%, while Part B premiums have only increased by about 25%. That adds up to even more savings the longer you are on Medicare. 

You Have Choices!multiple doors next to each other all white, except for one yellow one.

Medicare also beats private insurance when it comes to plan choice and clarity. When you have employer coverage, you are stuck with whatever healthcare plan your  employer offers you, and it can be difficult to change plans. There is also a lot of uncertainty in private plans about how much you will pay for deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.  

However, once you enroll in Medicare at 65, you have the choice of enrolling in other plans that help with out-of-pocket costs, such as Medicare Supplement Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans. There are around 10 different Medicare Supplement plans alone to choose from, and with each  you will know just how much you will be spending. And, if you find that you are unhappy with whichever Medicare Supplement plan you choose, you can switch your coverage.

Free Preventive Care

caucasian woman with a face mask on and white coat with a swab in her hand and googles on.
Medicare offers free preventive doctor visits and screenings.

Medicare offers free preventive care services to all people covered by Part B. These services include:

  • “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit– This initial check-up can be scheduled within the first 12 months of your enrollment in Medicare Part B and includes a host of free preventive services. During this visit, your medical and social history is reviewed and you will get certain screenings, vaccines, referrals to specialists if needed, a vision test, body mass index (BMI) calculation, height and weight measurements, blood pressure measurements, depression screening, and a plan for  future screenings you might need in the future. 
  • Annual “Wellness” Visits– you are covered for one free annual doctor visit at least 11 months after your first wellness exam, then once every year after that. These visits will include services similar to those in  the “welcome to Medicare” visit. Your doctor will also ask you to fill out a questionnaire called a “Health Risk Assessment.”
  • Screenings– You get free screenings for:
    • Mammograms
    • Cancer screenings for lung cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, prostate and colorectal cancer.
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Alcohol Misuse
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Hepatitis C
    • HIV
    • Glaucoma
    • Bone mass measurements for bone density
    • Obesity screening
    • Weight-loss counseling
  • Vaccines- Medicare Part B covers vaccines for pneumonia, the flu, tetanus, and hepatitis B.

Number of Children Getting Vaccinations Continues To Drop

Every parent has a right over what they think is best for their child. Some choose the herbal route when their kids are sick, while others choose the medicinal route. Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in parents choosing not to give their kids vaccinations. The numbers quadrupled in the last 17 years. The reason for the decline in vaccinations is due to a study that was found to be fraud regarding autism. The study by Wakefield linked vaccines to the increase of autism in children over the years. The lack of vaccination in kids has caused some measle outbreaks all over the world, including in the U.S.

The number of kids getting vaccinated is decreasing every year.
The number of kids getting vaccinated is decreasing every year. This may cause an outbreak of diseases like the measles.

Vaccines & Autism

The study that was linked to autism was found to be untrue. The man who conducted the study, Wakefield, falsified data about the children’s conditions that he observed. Since then, at least seven large studies were conducted and found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. But because of Wakefield’s falsified study, and the increasing numbers of autism in kids, parents are re-thinking vaccines. Parents are not reassured by the facts that vaccines are not linked to autism and other issues with children. The reason is because they have all met or know someone with an autistic child.

One in 59 kids are on the autism spectrum in the U.S. This is almost a 2% increased rate from the past 2 years. No one truly knows the reason for the increase of autism in kids. However, there are factors associated with higher risk such as mental illness during pregnancy, genetic mutations, birth before 37 weeks gestation, and having parents that are older than 30.

Measles & Vaccines

Due to the decline of kids getting the MMR shot, the number of kids getting the measles has increased. If a baby or toddler gets the measles, the outcome may be deadly for them and their weakened and undeveloped immune systems. The measles virus is a highly contagious one, it affects the respiratory system, immune system, and your skin. In the U.S. there has been a confirmed 137 measle cases among 24 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. The CDC estimates that if there is a 5% drop in the measles vaccination, then the number of children aged 2 to 11 who would catch the measles would triple.

Why So Many Vaccines?

Nearly 1 in 4 people aged 19-35 have not received all the recommended vaccinations. Some parents are concerned about the number of shots that a child has to get, especially since it is so much more than when they were a child. The reason for this is because back in the 1970’s and 80’s, kids were vaccinated against only 8 diseases, Since then, kids are vaccinated against 14 diseases, which is why they receive more shots. Kids these days are protected against almost twice as many diseases. 100 children died from chicken pox the year before the varicella vaccine was introduced to us. Even though a lot of people got the chicken pox and were okay, others were not as fortunate.

Some parents think that herd immunity will help keep their kids safe.
Some parents think that herd immunity will help keep their kids safe. But kids and babies are at most risk if vaccination numbers drop too much.

Herd Immunity

Some parents believe that “herd immunity” will protect their kids from getting a disease, which is why they do not give their children immunization. Herd immunity is the idea that if a large number of the community is vaccinated, then the spread of a contagious disease will be low for those who are not vaccinated. The only problem with this theory is that the community must have 80-90% of them vaccinated, and a drop in this number will lead to the community becoming susceptible to the disease. Those who are at greatest risk of getting the disease are babies and kids.

Some children who are allergic to eggs, or have immune-system deficiencies can not receive certain vaccines. This puts that child at a huge risk of contracting a disease that could compromise their life. It is important that people around the kid are vaccinated so that the child is not in danger. But this can only be achieved if we shield our kids and communities from the diseases with vaccines.

When it comes down to the debate, it depends on the parent and what they believe and feel is right. Know the facts by doing a lot of research, and ask your doctor any questions you have before choosing not to vaccinate.