You’ve probably seen it advertised. You hear it from your doctor. It was noted in the mail from your insurance company. But what exactly is preventative care? What exactly is included? And how much will it set you back?
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what preventative care is and isn’t — and why it matters. Here’s what you should know.
What Is Preventive Care, and Why Is It Important?
Preventive care is everything from a routine checkup (a.k.a. a wellness visit) to routine vaccinations. Your primary care doctor or your family doctor – the person who knows you best – should be your point person for all of your preventive care needs.
Preventive care is designed to catch problems before they become serious, manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and promote healthy behaviors like quitting smoking and managing stress. All of this is done with the goal of staying healthy and preventing illness.
Preventive care is important because regular checkups can spot signs and symptoms that an illness may be developing. Or it could mean the difference between catching a disease like cancer or heart disease early, when it’s more treatable and less likely to spread.
It’s also important because it lets you evaluate how well you’re managing any existing health problems. Maybe you aren’t making any progress with a chronic condition. Maybe you need a new treatment plan. At the very least, it helps you stay on top of medications, schedule lab tests, and stay compliant with any conditions that you’re managing.
Specialists are part of the team too. A dentist, for example, may recommend a dental sealant for a patient’s teeth to help prevent tooth decay. An optometrist may prescribe certain eye drops or even a type of contact lens that could prevent vision problems later in life.
A few things to know about preventive care:
– It’s always free. No copays, no coinsurance.
– It’s covered by most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid.
– Preventive care is often included in a wellness visit, which is free. It’s a comprehensive, annual appointment usually done at your primary care doctor’s office. It includes a physical exam, lab tests like blood, urine, stool, and other screenings and tests like cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, and cholesterol tests.
What’s the Difference between Preventive Care and Other Types of Care?
Preventive care is different from the treatment you get when you’re sick. That might include chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments. It also includes any time you spend in the hospital.
A colonoscopy, for example, as a colorectal cancer screening, is preventative — even if the doctor removes polyps or tissue samples during the operation. However, if extra follow-up care is required, such as another operation to remove other growths or any therapies if cancer is discovered, it is not considered preventative, and you may incur some out-of-pocket costs.
Here are some more examples:
- Visits to the primary care office for a specific health care need, such as the typical cold or flu, seasonal allergies, rashes, or minor injuries.
- Depending on your insurance coverage, you may be able to schedule visits with specialists such as dermatologists, allergists, or cardiologists.
- Diagnostic tests and screenings to discover more about a medical problem that is suspected or known.
Preventive care is an important piece of staying healthy. It’s worth your time to learn more about it and how much it could save you – and cost you – in the long run.
If you need annual health exams in Troy, come to Family Medicine and Wellness. We believe that health and wellness are of utmost importance for well-being and are attained through a personalized patient-physician relationship. Dr. Al-Misky believes in a strong, trustworthy, and confidential patient relationship and is committed to effective communication and shared decision-making.