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The benefits of a yearly check-up

The greatest benefit of an annual physical is knowledge — for both you and your physician. These visits establish a baseline of your personal health against which your doctor can detect unhealthy trends before they become risk factors.

Nearly a third of the 133 million Americans with a chronic disease don't even know they have the disease. According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, as many as 100,000 lives could be saved each year simply by increasing the use of common preventive care services. Crucial, and often simple, health screenings easily detect the two most common chronic conditions — diabetes and high blood pressure — before they cause serious health issues.

Or maybe you have already been diagnosed with a chronic health condition. The Centers for Disease Control cites that seven out of every 10 deaths are caused by chronic disease. But proper disease management can prevent unnecessary hospitalization and reduce the cost of primary care.

Another benefit of an annual physical is the connection you will develop with your doctor. When a health crisis occurs, you will have a doctor (and the doctor's staff) who already knows and cares about you — and you can probably be seen sooner.

Get more out of your physical.

To get the most out of your annual checkup, take a moment to prepare for it:

  • Make a list of your health concerns.

  • Make a list of all the medications you are taking.

  • Get a copy of your medical records and your family medical history and make a list of previous doctors if you’ll be seeing a new doctor.

  • Review your health plan to be sure you understand your coverage and call your doctor in advance to see which tests/screenings are usually run. You can request that your doctor not perform tests not covered by your health plan.

Schedule your physical — especially if you've been putting it off. It can empower you to make wellness an everyday part of your life. And in the long run, it can probably reduce your total health care spending.