9 reasons why you need an annual check up

During an annual physical exam, your primary care provider will look for any early signs of disease and help you arrange health screenings you may need.

An annual check up with a primary care provider helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle, receive preventive care, get guidance about any health concerns and build a relationship with your doctor. An ongoing relationship with a health care provider makes communicating sensitive information much easier. 

Your annual check up may include health screenings and blood tests, and with most insurance plans, your check up physical exam is covered 100% with no copays.

Here are 9 reasons why you should get an annual exam

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Early detection of health concerns 

An annual check up allows your primary care provider to identify any potential health concerns before they become more serious or difficult to treat. 

Preventive care

Your annual wellness visit often will include screenings and tests to detect common health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and certain cancers. Identifying these conditions early allows for timely intervention and appropriate management.

Health promotion and education 

An annual physical exam provides an opportunity to discuss your health goals, receive guidance on nutrition, exercise and stress management, and receive vaccinations or preventive treatments.

Monitoring any chronic disease

For individuals with chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), asthma or heart disease, regular check ups are crucial for monitoring disease, adjusting treatment plans and managing the condition.

Medication review 

A regular check up provides an opportunity to review medications and make any necessary adjustments. This ensures that medications are effective, safe and appropriate for your current health status.

Mental health screening

Wellness visits often involve assessing mental health and well-being. Sometimes, mental issues can show up as physical symptoms and vice versa. Your health care provider typically will ask about stress, anxiety, depression or other concerns.


The Centers for Disease Control and prevention has a recommended list of vaccinations for adults. Annual wellness visits are an opportunity to receive these immunizations and stay up to date to protect against disease.

Establishing a baseline

Your check up helps establish a baseline of health measurements such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) and other vital signs. These baselines can be used for comparison in future visits to track changes.

Personalized care

A health care provider can tailor preventive care recommendations based on an individual’s age, gender, family history and lifestyle habits. These recommendations may include screenings, lifestyle modifications and counseling.

Your annual check up may result in follow-up visits. The frequency of your office visits may vary depending on factors such as age, medical history and risk factors. 

The difference between an annual physical exam and an office visit

A physical exam is a routine visit, typically scheduled for once a year. Your medical provider will make sure you complete any necessary screenings (may include Pap smear, scheduling a mammogram, prostate cancer blood test and other checks). They also will ask you general health questions and collect blood and urine for testing. 

An office visit is for when you have a specific concern. 

Family medicine or internal medicine specialists can perform physical exams as well as treat you in an office visit.

What to expect at an annual check up

Your primary care provider will look for any early signs of disease and help you arrange annual screenings you may need. Many conditions such as heart disease and cancer can be treated successfully when caught early.

Before your appointment

Write down any questions you may have, such as:

  • Lifestyle changes you want to make
  • Nagging concerns (no matter how minor)
  • Family health history
  • Mental health questions
  • Sexual health concerns

During your annual check up

Some of the following may take place at your annual physical appointment:

  • Stay up to date on immunizations such as a flu, COVID-19 and shingles.
  • You’ll have an opportunity to ask about general health concerns and discuss symptoms that may be bothering you.
  • Your primary care provider can discuss whether you are ready for a mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening typically covered by health insurance.
  • Blood tests can check cholesterol and blood sugar levels, screen for sexually transmitted infections and more. If you haven’t had some of these blood tests, your provider will want to establish a baseline to compare against in the future.
  • If you need to get specialized care, your primary care provider can refer you to a specialist.

Your provider will use all of this information to formulate a plan to help keep you healthy and address any chronic issues. Primary care physicians are trained to uncover potential health issues, and catching those early increases the chance for a healthier future.

Schedule an Appointment

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