The phrase “new you” in the new year is a common phrase used to motivate healthy eating and exercise. The new year also starts a new insurance year. Preventative medicine is screening examinations and other screenings based on age and gender. Preventative is just that – to prevent problems. This is a screening of general health and wellness and may change based on personal medications and chronic conditions.
This simple check with a blood pressure cuff is typically done at every visit with your medical provider. This is a screening for elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure, hypertension, is a common condition that can increase the risk for stroke and heart attack if it is not diagnosed or treated as early as possible.
An annual lipid check checks cholesterol levels. This is covered by insurance annually and is even covered for children now. Once over the age of 35, this screening tool is recommended to be used annually. Sooner, if there is a higher risk for a family history of heart disease. This test is a blood test that is best taken when fasting, meaning nothing to eat for at least 8 hours prior to the blood draw.
Women between the ages of 40 and 44 are recommended to begin mammography once a year per the CDC. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammogram screening to begin at ages 50-74 for women of average risk for breast cancer – meaning no personal or family history of breast cancer. The USPTF also recommends screening every 2 years. For women with a personal or family history of cysts or breast cancer should discuss when to start imaging with their medical provider. Screening mammograms are x-rays of the breast. There are breast MRIs that are used but are not typically recommended or covered for basic screening for women with average health.
The American College of Gynecology has updated cervical screening through PAP smear to every 3 years for those aged 21-29, and every 5 years after that with HPV testing. This screening is for those with an average risk of cervical screening. Repeat screening is based on the results of the pap smear. While some insurances may cover annual screenings when the guidelines are updated some insurances did not continue to cover the annual pap smear. Check with your carrier what they will cover.
The American Cancer Society recommends the first screening for colon cancer for those with average risk (no personal or family history of colon cancer) beginning at age 45. This can be done via a stool-based test where the individual uses stool cards checking for blood or a colonoscopy – where a camera is used to visually check the health of the length of the colon. These tests should be discussed with your medical provider to determine the best testing for you. Anyone over the age of 85 are not recommended to continue colorectal cancer screening, with the recommendation for people aged 76 to 85 to discuss screening with a medical provider.
Routine vaccinations for things like flu and vaccinations for travel are recommended based on occupation, travel, and health. Ask your medical provider what vaccinations you should get. A regular checkup is a perfect time to ask this.
In general, military dental insurance covers 2 cleanings a year for adults. This means it can be sooner than 6 months apart, perfect for those who may move sooner than the 6-month mark and may not be able to see a dental provider at the new location. Good dental hygiene is linked to improved blood pressure in addition to gum health.
While it isn’t what anyone looks forward to or enjoys, healthy living includes screenings. Schedule your visit with your medical provider this year.