Here's Why You Should Never Skip a Doctor's Appointment

This isn’t something I ever envisioned myself saying, but I think I’ve gone to the most doctor’s appointments I ever have in my life while in college! I’m talking gastroenterology appointments, dermatology visits, acupuncture sessions, ophthalmology consults, podiatry appointments, and, of course, your run-of-the-mill general check-ups and dental exams. Believe me, I’m still trying to figure out why my body decided to become so high-maintenance the minute it hit college, but that’s a story for another time. 

While going to doctor’s appointments as a busy college student may seem like a drag, they’re actually extremely important. Your health is your most valuable possession, and should be treated as such — especially during a pandemic. Taking care of your body will allow your body to take care of you right back! Read on to learn more about why going to your doctor’s appointments during your college years is so important.

It’s a good way to practice preventive care

Seeing the doctor isn’t something that should only be done when health issues are starting to get out of control. Those yearly physicals your mom or dad may have taken you to as you were growing up? That was preventive care! Preventive (or preventative, depending on your pronunciation preferences) healthcare consists of measures taken for disease and/or illness prevention. I’d never really thought about it until I interned for an insurance company this past summer and learned all about different health benefits, but preventive care truly is an essential step in everyone’s healthcare journey.

Preventive care is important because it’s intended to help keep you as healthy as possible. Routine check-ups and check-ins can ensure that nothing is seriously wrong while also giving your physician the opportunity to create an adequate health plan for you. You can stay focused on your own health and wellness goals with this preventive help and guidance. And a big added bonus is that most health plans are legally required to cover eligible preventive services at 100 percent.   

doctor giving girl vaccination Photo by CDC from Unsplash So, what sort of things can be classified as preventive services anyway? I’ve listed some examples of common preventive services below:

  • Annual check-up (once a year): At this appointment, your primary care doctor checks all areas of your physical and mental health. The purpose of annual examinations is to help detect any health issues that have the potential to become threatening to you later down the line.
  • Flu shot (once a year): Most health insurance plans cover flu shots at 100 percent, as they help protect you from different flu virus strains that pop up every year. A lot of colleges and universities also offer flu shot fairs, which make getting vaccinated super convenient once flu season hits!  
  • Vaccinations (typically administered in childhood and adolescence): Vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella, polio, etc. are usually all covered at 100 percent. The new COVID-19 vaccines should be covered as well! 
  • Mammograms and colonoscopies are also classified as preventive services, but as college students we aren’t quite at that stage in our lives yet! 

With a quick Google search, you can look up other preventive services and learn if they’re covered by insurance or offered by your campus’s student health center. The few examples listed above came from Cigna, a worldwide health services organization and insurance company.

It helps you take charge of your own well-being

Scheduling and attending your doctor’s appointments is certainly important for the feedback you will receive about your overall health. However, tackling your healthcare needs on your own is a big part of your growth and development as both a college student and as an independent human being. I’m sure many of you can relate to having older friends or family members joke about how our generation is always too afraid to pick up the phone and call our pharmacies and doctors’ offices, but it’s true! It can be scary having to do these things alone, especially when you’ve always had your mom or dad scheduling these types of visits or even with you at your appointments.

desk stretch Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels These days, health and wellness is constantly being spotlighted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying healthy is rapidly becoming a top priority as the battle against coronavirus rages on, which is yet another reason to take matters into your own hands. I’m not necessarily only talking about COVID — just that now more than ever, it’s important to stay on top of your health. How you handle managing your doctor’s appointments will be totally unique to you. Maybe you have the ability to use your parents’ insurance and can find healthcare providers based on their coverage. Or maybe you rely on your school’s student health center. Whatever the case may be, taking charge of your own physical and mental well-being will greatly help you as you progress further and further into the adult world.

Your diagnostic care needs can be properly taken care of 

Of course, no one wants anything to be seriously wrong with them (not even you, my fellow hypochondriacs), but when something is physically “off” or a medical issue needs to be uncovered or addressed, seeking attention from medical professionals is the first thing you should do. 

The opposite of preventive care, diagnostic care is related to services in which your doctor is specifically looking for something. It is often what follows the results of a preventive test or screening. Running these sorts of tests — in order to detect something that may not have been there before — are classified as diagnostic care because they dive deeper into a medical concern. 

I’ve listed some examples of common diagnostic services below (also taken from Cigna):

  • Diagnostic tests and screenings: These are usually follow-ups to the preventive, routine tests and screenings. Maybe your doctor wants to redo a test or two, just to confirm the results of the original(s). 

  • Additional primary care visits: Most health plans cover one regular check-up per year. Other primary care appointments during the same calendar year will typically not be considered preventive. 

  • Specialist visits: These include visits to a gastroenterologist, orthopedist, neurologist, podiatrist, etc. for a specific medical concern you want to address.

  • Alternative therapies: These are things like chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and other alternative health services.

Related: How Much Stress is too Much? Managing Anxiety in College

Growing up comes with a lot of responsibilities, but your college years are the perfect time to exercise the role of being your own caretaker. Pay attention to your body and don’t ignore any physical or mental signals it may be trying to send you. Better yet, hop on the preventive care train to detect any medical concerns that could possibly spiral into bigger issues. Your health is so important; don’t forget just how important it is if you ever get anxious about having to schedule and attend appointments on your own. You got this! Remember, taking care of your body will allow it to keep taking care of you right back.