Why do you need a physical?

While you probably know that you should visit your doctor annually for a wellness exam, you may be wondering what the physical will entail, when you need one, and whether it’s covered by health insurance. Here’s some information about physicals for adults and how often you should schedule one with your primary healthcare provider.

The goal of a physical exam is to spot symptoms of medical problems and diseases early. If these issues are treated proactively, it’ll save you time, money, and maybe even your life.

During comprehensive physical exams, medical providers start by collecting important information about your recent medical history, as well as discussing any concerns you have about your health. Your medical provider will also conduct a visual exam to look for issues with your bones and joints, balance, skin, and eyes. You’ll get your blood pressure checked and, depending on your medical history, your physician may also order routine blood work to check your glucose and cholesterol levels. The medical professional might also suggest immunizations or other types of screenings, like a mammogram or colonoscopy, depending on your age.

How often do you need a physical? The older you get, the more often you need routine physical exams at your family clinic. If you are 30 years old or under and don’t have any complicating risk factors for medical problems, such as obesity or a history of disease, you only need a medical physical every two to three years. However, individuals between the ages of 30 to 40 should get a physical every other year, and people over the age of 50 should get physicals annually.

Also, if there is a health symptom bothering you, it’s a good time to schedule a physical to talk with your provider about your concerns. Call your insurance carrier about whether they will cover routine physicals. Do know, though, that any other physical issues you may bring up at your visit which require further testing are above and beyond what your insurance company will have quoted they’ll pay. Be sure to discuss this as well with your insurance representatives so your bill is not a surprise.

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