What is considered preventive care?
Preventive care, also referred to as routine care, is focused on the detection and prevention of medical problems and serious diseases before they escalate and become a major health concern. Preventive care can include annual check-ups, staying up to date with immunizations, visits to the doctor when something is off with your health that could be a symptom of a larger concern and some regular tests and screenings depending on your gender, age and medical history. Your annual check-up should take place once a year, with your primary care physician performing a full physical exam, as well as checking in on your emotional health. For women, preventive care will also include regular Pap tests and mammograms after a certain age to screen for signs of cancer or other abnormalities. For men, it is recommended to have a colonoscopy on a routine basis after a specific age. Vaccinations are typically administered as part of a child’s preventive care routine, with boosters administered as needed. These can also carry into adulthood if vaccination schedules weren’t completed in childhood.
What is included in a preventive visit?
A preventive visit typically covers a physical exam as well as a check in on your mental health to help your doctor identify any medical issues that could become a major concern, either physical or mental. Additional tests can be included for men and women over a certain age to screen for different types of cancers and any abnormal cells or lumps. Children may receive vaccinations as part of their annual preventive care visit if they are due for specific immunizations according to the immunization schedule. Preventive care is intended to help with the early detection of illnesses, diseases or other medical problems that your doctor can diagnose and treat proactively as opposed to waiting until it is a serious medical condition. Lab tests can also be included as part of a preventive care visit as an additional step to check for abnormalities in your blood and internal organ functions.
What is the difference between preventive and diagnostic?
Preventive care is focused on the prevention and early detection of medical issues, before you even have symptoms. Diagnostic care is often done at the request of your primary care physician as a follow up to a preventive care visit. This is typically requested because something in your preventive care visit flagged an area that could be of potential concern and requires further testing and investigation to rule out or diagnose a medical issue. Diagnostic care can include additional tests and screenings beyond what is covered by a preventive care visit, additional visits to your primary care physician for monitoring or follow up and visits to a specialist for a particular issue. Diagnostic care can include monitoring of an existing problem, checking on new symptoms or follow up testing or treatment based on abnormal test results. If your doctor is recommending you have further tests or refers you to a specialist, it is important that you understand the reason behind it to know if the care is preventive or diagnostic in nature as it may or may not be covered by your insurance plan.
When should I see a doctor for preventive care?
At a minimum, you should see your primary care physician on an annual basis for a preventive care physical exam. Many benefits plans cover one annual physical exam, and additional tests based on your age and gender, on the basis of preventive medical care. Your doctor can advise you on how often you should book a preventive care visit based on your age, gender, family history, medical history and any specific medical needs you have. You may need additional visits throughout the year when you have symptoms that need to be checked out. You will need to check with your insurance company on your insurance coverage for annual preventive care appointments as well as additional appointments as needed between annual visits.