August 14, 2020 How-To

Preventive Care: What It Is, Why It Matters, and What to Expect

With health and safety front and center these days, you may be on the fence about going to the doctor’s office. But if anything, it’s more important than ever to engage in your own health and wellbeing.

Most of us think about medical care when something goes wrong or we’re not feeling well. But what if a trip to the doctor’s office could actually keep you healthy? What if one doctor visit could keep you from having to go to lots of doctor appointments? Welcome to preventive care.

What is preventive care?

An office visit is about getting well; preventive care is about living well. A preventive care visit detects small issues before they become big issues.

Dealing with stress in your life and feeling overwhelmed and detached? Your doctor can screen you for depression so you can get the tools you need to cope.

Feeling fine but put on some weight recently? Your doctor can check for pre-diabetes or other possible underlying conditions.

Have a family history of colorectal or breast cancer? Your doctor can tell you about the best time and way to get screened.

Preventive care costs nothing out of pocket

With a few exceptions for grandfathered plans, your annual preventive care costs nothing. Annual checkup – no cost. Screening mammogram – no cost. Annual preventive bloodwork – no cost. Colorectal cancer screening – no cost.

Why? The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurers to provide preventive services at no additional cost to members. But more than complying with a government mandate, covering preventive care means CDPHP is helping you to stay happy, healthy, safe, and secure.

Get preventive care when it’s good for you

Unlike trying to see the doctor for a suspected case of strep throat, scheduling a preventive visit offers much more flexibility. You can schedule your preventive care at any time during the year. Need an appointment first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon? Your doctor may be able to accommodate your needs by finding an open appointment that works with your schedule. Does your employer or school observe President’s Day? Your doctor’s office may be open so you can get in without taking time off from work or school.

What to expect

What happens at preventive care visits depends on your age and health status.

Adults can expect:

  • Physical exam
  • Depression screening
  • Referral for a colorectal cancer, breast, and cervical cancer screenings depending on age, sex, and risk factors
  • Prescription for routine bloodwork if appropriate
  • To be offered a flu shot, shingles, or other age-appropriate vaccine

Adolescents can expect:

  • Physical exam
  • Depression screening
  • Vaccinations as appropriate
  • Counseling on  smoking, drug and alcohol use, and sexual health
  • Counseling on physical activity and nutrition
  • Prescription for bloodwork if appropriate

Parents of infants and children can expect:

  • Weight and height/length checks to measure growth and development
  • Counseling on physical activity and nutrition
  • Vaccinations as appropriate
  • Blood tests for lead and cholesterol at certain ages

How to prepare

A preventive visit is your chance to talk to your doctor about your overall health – living well, not getting well. Before your appointment, make a list of health-related topics to talk to your doctor about. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Medication changes
  • Family health history
  • Recent care received from other providers or specialists
  • Concerns about your mental health or depression
  • Getting help with losing weight or quitting smoking
  • Routine screenings you may need
  • Needed vaccines

Take the first step today. Call your doctor and talk to the office about scheduling a preventive visit.

Kristin Schultz
About the Author

Kristin came to CDPHP in 2018 and is a communications specialist. She writes and edits content for use in internal and external communications. She has a background in journalism, and most recently worked for a local daily newspaper. Kristin has also been a staff writer for a monthly food and beverage magazine in the Midwest. She loves learning new things and trying new food. She will never turn down a bowl of noodles or falafel. Kristin likes to travel and explore with her husband and two children.

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