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Are you getting the most out of your annual wellness exam?



A checkup with your doctor is about much more than height, weight and blood pressure. Here's what you should be asking your doctor about.

An annual wellness exam is your chance to catch up with your primary care doctor and make sure your health is on track. You can think of your primary care doctor as the quarterback of the team of healthcare professionals you work with – they have the complete picture of your health, and are the best person to help connect you with the care you need. For most people, an annual yearly checkup is the most important doctor visit. It’s a time to take stock of your well-being, work with your doctor on strategies, and create a plan that helps you achieve your best health.

What You Should Ask About at an Annual Wellness Exam

Your doctor shapes your annual visit to include tests, vaccines and exams that reflect your age, overall health, and other factors specific to you. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about what they are looking for and what those tests or exams mean. In fact, you may want to bring a basic outline of what you want to cover with you, just so you don't forget anything. Here's one you can print out before your visit.

Height and weight. These two measures are used to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).  BMI is one way a doctor looks at your overall health and assesses your risk for many diseases and health conditions.  Ask your doctor about your BMI and how it is impacting your health.

Blood pressure. Ask what blood pressure is measuring and why it is important. Make sure you get both numbers, and ask whether you’re within the healthy range. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to remind the doctor.

Vaccinations. The CDC publishes a list of vaccines it considers essential to good health. Some vaccinations last a lifetime, while others need to be administered every year or few years. Vaccinations are part of your health plan’s preventive care coverage and are typically available without any out-of-pocket cost to you. Tell your doctor about previous vaccines you might have gotten in the past year from anyone else – like a pharmacy or urgent care – so that your health records are complete. Review the CDC’s recommended vaccines before your physical and ask your doctor whether you need to get any of them, and when.

Blood tests. Blood tests may be part of your annual physical. Your doctor may draw blood during the physical or ask you to go to a lab to have your blood drawn. You can find in-network labs by searching “Laboratory-Patient Center” in the Doctor & Hospital Finder on the HorizonBlue app or on www.HorizonBlue.com. Ask your doctor to explain the tests performed and your results.

Prescriptions and Other Drugs. Review your prescriptions with your doctor. Ask whether there are generic or lower costs prescriptions that are just as effective, but that can lower your out-of-pocket costs.  Be sure to tell the doctor about over-the-counter medicines, as well as vitamins or supplements, you take. As part of your preventive care coverage, your doctor may prescribe a number of medications that are covered without cost share if you have pharmacy coverage through your Horizon health plan. You can find a list on the Horizon preventive health page.

Screenings and counseling. Your primary care doctor can recommend a wide variety of screenings that are available to members at no extra cost, and without the extra step of meeting with a specialist. Services available include screenings for cancer, diabetes, depression and osteoporosis. Additionally, your primary care doctor can arrange counseling for smoking cessation, domestic violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. These are just a few of the many screenings and services you can set up during your annual physical—for the comprehensive list, visit the Horizon preventive health page.

Mental and Emotional Health. Your doctor should also be asking about stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol consumption or other substance usage. If you have concerns about your mental or emotional health, be sure to bring them up. Your health isn’t just your body, it’s your mind too. 

Horizon Health News is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.