Going to the doctor — whether for an issue or an annual checkup — is not anyone's favorite activity. The lobbies are a little too cold, you almost always have to wait, and you are poked and prodded before being sent on your way. Many Americans actually put off their preventative care doctors' appointments, simply because they hate going. Millennials top this chart, as 93 percent of the generation not maintaining a normal appointment schedule. While that is completely understandable, keeping up with your health is a priority worth sitting in a cold lobby for.
Thankfully, keeping up with yearly health check-ins doesn't mean going to the doctor's office every week. You just need a few simple appointments to make sure that you're where you need to be in regard to your health.
1. Annual physical
If you are young, in good health, and feeling fine, your annual physical can generally wait every two or three years. Most health insurances will cover an annual physical once every calendar year though — this is a great way to check up on things you probably don't think about, like your cholesterol and your thyroid. Ultimately, annual physicals let your doctor see that things are normal and healthy — if they have a concern, they'll be able to talk about it with you and conduct more tests to make sure there isn't anything wrong. An annual physical is a yearly check-in that gives you and your doctor peace of mind.
Dentists recommend getting your teeth cleaned every six months, but it's a little too easy to push these appointments to the side. While your teeth may feel fine, being overdue on your oral hygiene means plaque buildup could be happening without you even knowing it! Call your dentist and book that appointment — most insurances cover teeth cleaning every six months, and the dentist always comes in to make sure everything else is good to go once your teeth are sparkly clean!
I know, I know. The dentist isn't ideal, but the gynecologist? That's an appointment everyone dreads. While a yearly pelvic exam isn't necessarily fun, checking in with your gynecologist is something every woman needs to prioritize. This yearly exam includes a pap smear and a general women's wellness check that allows you to talk about hormones, sexuality, and family planning with your doctor. As most insurances cover (or require minimal copays) for preventative check-ups, there's no reason to skip a visit to the gynecologist. Those female organs go through a lot, and they deserve their own check-up!
4. Eye doctor
Your family history and personal vision health depend on how often you should see the eye doctor, but every couple of years is the general rule of thumb. If you wear glasses, find yourself getting headaches from too much screen time, or notice your vision starting to fade, you'll want to make an appointment sooner. Check with your insurance to see what your coverage is for an eye exam.
If you have a skin disorder, you're probably checking in with your dermatologist on a fairly regular basis. But even if your skin feels fine, a semi-routine skin exam can help you catch things like the risk of skin cancer before they come to the surface. Your dermatologist will also be able to talk to you about acne, rashes, eczema, and other sensitivities you may be experiencing, as well as ways to treat them. Most insurances cover dermatologist visits when they are considered medically necessary — if you're looking for botox help, you'll have to bring your wallet.
6. Med checks
Before you check off every other appointment on this list, evaluate what medication you're currently taking. Eventually, the doctor who prescribed them to you will need to do a med check — a quick conversation and possible exam to make sure the medication is still what's most appropriate for you. Many of the doctors mentioned above will automatically reach out to you to schedule these checks, but it's always a good idea to know when your pharmacy will stop with the automatic refills — whether it's birth control from your gynecologist or skin cream from the dermatologist, you don't want to run out of the medication your body needs!