Your annual physical checklist

If you have Medicare and have had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months, you should be eligible for, and maybe have already experienced your Annual Wellness Visit.

Senior couple looking at Medicare forms and papers

Annual physical check-ups are essential in maintaining your health. These check-ups can identify health issues in their early stages, so you can take care of them as early as possible. If you have Medicare and have had Medicare Part B for more than 12 months, you should be eligible for, and maybe have already experienced your Annual Wellness Visit.

This very basic annual medical examination is a surface-level check of your health condition. This physical is great for making sure that all your healthcare bases are covered, it isn’t entirely a physical examination. For a more comprehensive health examination, a proper physical checkup is required, and many people opt for one. These physical exams conduct additional tests over your standard Annual Wellness Visit including:

  • Measuring your Body Mass Index or BMI
  • Head and neck exam
  • Lung examination
  • Abdominal exam
  • Neurological test
  • Reflex check
  • Urine and blood tests

There are so many benefits that Medicare beneficiaries often opt for this more detailed checkup despite the fact that there isn’t typically any Medicare coverage for annual physicals. The reason for this is simple – if there is a health issue, wouldn’t you want to know about it and take preventative measures sooner rather than later?

Additionally, a regular physical examination provides the following benefits:

  • Ensures that you have a fully updated medical record
  • Allows you to build a stronger relationship with your doctor
  • Helps make your healthcare more personalized

Since this will usually form an important part of your healthcare cycle, why not make the most of it? And the best way to do that is to be as well prepared as possible. With that in mind, here are some tips to follow as part of your annual physical exam checklist:

1. Have your medical records in order – You may have gone through some treatments since your last annual physical, or had a small health issue that you may not think is significant, but every little change in your health should be reported just to make sure your physician has all the information at hand.

2. Take the necessary tests – Physical examinations typically require getting blood tests and other such checkups done beforehand. Make sure you have the exact details of the type of tests required, and that you have the results in hand when you go in for your checkup.

3. List out your medications and dosage – No matter what medication you take, whether prescribed or over the counter, make sure you have it all jotted down along with dosage information. Even herbal supplements or alternative medicine should be included in this list, just to be thorough.

4. Review and cross-check your family history – Family health history is an integral part of preventive medicine. Knowing what ailments your family members had can help pinpoint risk areas for your own health, and alert the physician to keep an eye out for any signs of illnesses that may be hereditary.

5. List out all your doctors and sources of treatment – Your general physician most likely won’t also be your dentist and/or specialist healthcare provider, so make sure you let them know who your doctors/specialists are and where you’ve gotten treatment in the past so they know who to contact for additional information if needed.

6. List out any recent health problems – Make sure that you make a list of any and all health concerns/problems you have suffered or recovered from since your last visit. This tells the physician about what to look for during the examination, and they may be able to give you additional insight into your condition.

7. Make a note of all the questions or queries you have – During your exam, you may forget to ask a question that you really wanted answered, or you might forget to mention something. It is better to come prepared with a list of all your questions and not risk losing out on important medical advice while you have the doctor in the room with you.

8. Ask what specific preparations you need to make – Speak to the doctor’s office and ask if there is anything else you need to bring or any specific pre-test preparations you need to undergo. Sometimes you might have to provide a urine sample during the exam, so it wouldn’t do well to go on an empty bladder, or sometimes a specific test might require you to go in on an empty stomach, so make sure you find out what is expected.

The most effective medical examinations are those that are thorough and backed up by knowledge of the patient’s history and requirements. So, make sure you do your best to go in with everything you and your physician could possibly require. It is a question of your health, after all, so why take a chance?


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Page last updated 10/12/2023

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