If you are one of the record high enrollees of ACA health plans this year, getting to know your plan is key in using your plan as a tool for health and money savings. It is important to understand all the services and benefits that can help you get your money’s worth for the plan. Benefits on your plan provide services for a fee, co-payment or co-insurance.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer preventive services at no cost. That’s why things such as shots and screening tests are free as long as you visit an in-network provider.
Preventive care is intended to help you stay as healthy as possible. Regularly scheduled visits and tests allow your doctor to identify any medical problems before they can become major. Annual check-ups, immunizations, and flu shots, as well as certain tests and screenings, are a few examples of preventive care.
A good way to put it: You’re already paying a monthly premium to insurance companies for your coverage, so you might as well take advantage of the screenings and tests provided at no cost. These routine care appointments are designed for early detection of medical problems, illnesses, and diseases helps your doctor provide proactive care and treatment—keeping up with your health goals.
Routine Care like Annual Exams
Continued wellness is often the result of great communication between you and your doctor, and a yearly physical — covered by ACA insurance plans that require minimum essential coverage — helps support that doctor-patient relationship. Therefore, during your annual exam, talk to your doctor about your health, lifestyle, travel plans, current nutrition and fitness routines, and any concerns you may have.
Also, discuss changes in energy, activity, appearance (e.g., skin, hair, and teeth), and mental or emotional health, including memory loss, troubles concentrating, or depression. The better your doctor knows you, the better he or she can work with you to manage your care.
What can I expect?
There are a few standard procedures to expect during a yearly health check, but tests and screenings can vary. Your doctor may check your general appearance, talk to you about your medical history, and check or perform the following:
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart and respiration rates
- Heart and lung exam
- Ears, nose, and throat
- Abdominal exam
- Neurological check (including reflexes, muscle strength, and balance)
- Dermatological exam
Many doctors may take this opportunity to order lab work (blood tests, urine tests, or body tissue) to reveal potential underlying health issues. For instance, the American Heart Association recommends a lipid panel screening to check for heart disease every four to six years. However, more tests may be ordered depending on symptoms, age, and gender, or if there’s a family history of heart disease. These screenings can be used to confirm or rule out health issues and help your physician pinpoint the origin of any symptoms you may be experiencing. In addition, women may be encouraged to have a breast exam/mammogram and pelvic exam (based on age or doctor recommendation), and men may undergo a hernia, testicular, and/or prostate exam, among other screenings.
Staying up to date on your preventative care
Many of the tests and screenings performed during an annual physical exam can lead to early detection and treatment of serious medical conditions and diseases. Some like to schedule these appointments at the beginning of the year so that if something comes up that requires more follow-up care, you can utilize your deductible being met for other health services needed before the year ends. When you schedule an appointment for any free preventive services, make it known that you’re interested in getting your free preventive screenings and want to be told if any services fall outside the list of approved “free” services.
Charting your progress from year to year can be a crucial tool in recognizing new signs of illnesses that may develop as you age. Early detection and treatment can be vital in determining your outlook and quality of life. Therefore, even if you’re feeling well, make time for an annual physical exam to help ensure your good health continues.
If you have questions on your plan or need assistance in how to use your preventative care, the VelaPoint team can answer any questions, connect you with your carrier or help find doctors in your area. We are here to help. Call 855-548-0727 to speak to a VelaPoint representative on all your health coverage options.