Yearly Checkups Make Sense for Health – and for Wealth
Win-win situations don’t happen every day, but when it comes to yearly checkups, this phrase certainly fits. They allow you and your health care provider to keep your health on track, and they save a lot of money for both individuals and businesses that provide coverage.
"Long-term financial savings are not accidental – it takes careful planning," said physician Preston Renshaw, MD, Avera Health Plans Chief Medical Officer. "People who see a provider regularly, or at least annually, save significantly over the course of their lives. Health care costs spike when treatable or manageable conditions are ignored and become more serious."
Developing a Strong Connection with a Care Provider
Building a relationship with a provider is one of the most important investments you can make in your health.
"A primary care provider not only helps you to stay on top of important preventive exams, they’re someone you can talk to about any health concerns or questions," said Renshaw. "When I was a family medicine provider, there were many cases when a yearly checkup led us to find something we could treat or cure. People who skip checkups won’t have that opportunity."
Your yearly checkup allows you to have a conversation with your provider about your health journey. You might be due for immunizations and cancer screenings – and that meeting can ensure you’re on time.
Health Care Timing is Vital
Certain shots and exams should take place when suggested.
"Colonoscopy is a great example. If people skip it when they reach age 45, that might allow a precancerous polyp to become full-blown cancer," Renshaw said. "If left undetected, it could spread or cause more damage. I’ve treated patients who had regrets about waiting too long."
Exams like colonoscopy can find conditions that might present no symptoms.
"Diabetes can develop, due to genetic and behavioral factors. Once it does, the costs will be higher than treating a pre-diabetic condition," said Renshaw. "The same rules apply to orthopedic conditions, vision and hearing – earlier treatment is almost always better."
Make the Most of Your Health Insurance
While health insurance has a cost, ignoring a treatable condition can be even more costly.
"Year-to-year preventive care helps you maintain your health, and in part because of the Affordable Care Act, more affordable health insurance options are out there," Renshaw said. "You no longer can be denied coverage due to your health status, and you’re guaranteed coverage for a wide range of essential benefits."
Preventive services like your yearly checkup are covered 100%. Other preventive exams and screenings are also covered. From breast cancer to heart disease, starting treatment or lifestyle changes before a disease passes its early stages helps you stay healthier in the long term.
"Yearly checkups can help you avoid costly and devastating complications from a condition you don't even know you have," Renshaw said. "There are many indirect costs, like being absent from work or reduced productivity. By comparison, prevention is a huge savings."
If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your primary care provider for a yearly checkup.