Happy New Year! Now schedule your annual wellness visit. Prioritizing your health is something that is always talked about yet not practiced. Wellness is so much more than working out or meditating. It can be establishing a relationship with your doctors and knowing how public health works in your community.
I am a Health Policy and Administration student at Penn State, and I have learned so much more about the importance of having a regular doctor’s visit. In the United States, patients often look at going to the doctors as a last resort, like having an ear infection or bronchitis. However, going to an annual visit means so much more to the physician. Building a relationship lets a doctor know what to look for in your personal case. For example, doctors will be aware of your unique family history of underlying conditions, so going to your annual visit will help screen for issues that exist in your family.
Next, going to your annual visit is critical for your mental health. Doctors will give you a depression screening at this visit, and they need to see you in person to make sure the results are accurate. If doctors have a more in-depth understanding of who you are, they will be more accurate in your mental health diagnosis—explaining your mental state can help your primary care doctor give you more resources and refer you to specialized mental health professionals.
Also, go to your annual visit because it is free. Even if you usually pay a co-pay at the doctor, an annual physical is different. It is categorized as a preventative care visit. This helps check for chronic care conditions that plague the United States. Therefore, an annual physical is a quality measure that reports important data to public health officers. Insurers decided to make this appointment free to incentivize patients to go, so make sure to use this opportunity. Other examples of preventive care visits are an annual PAP smear, mammogram, and colonoscopy. Additionally, if you qualify for Medicare, you can go to your Medicare Wellness Visit, a non-touch physical that goes over environmental factors that impact health.
Even with COVID-19 still going on, it is important to still go for annual visits. Even though you may not feel like you are a priority, all healthcare providers will say you are. If you delay scheduling appointments during this time, your primary care doctor will no longer fully remember you. Your health could falter because they no longer have an accurate understanding of who you are and your health makeup. If you are worried about going to the doctor right now, inquire about a virtual visit. Many doctors will be willing to accommodate you virtually.
In the United States, it is important to note that healthcare is, unfortunately, a luxury. If you have access to care, please use it. Thousands of Americans do not have a primary care doctor, and therefore the health of the United States suffers. If you have the chance, call your doctor and take advantage of this opportunity to improve your own health.