Tag Archives: yearly

Your Preventive Care

Your Yearly Preventive Care and Physical

Getting your yearly physical, where you can get covered preventive care and screenings, helps you be your healthiest. It’s important that you not only know what’s recommended for your age and what you need to stay up to date, but also that you get to the doctor for this each year!

What Happens at Your Physical

Each year, you should schedule a physical with your doctor to focus on your health and wellness. At the appointment, you can:
  • Keep track of your health habits and history
  • Get a physical exam
  • Stay up-to-date with preventive care
  • Get education and counseling and set health goals

Health Habits & History

One of the first things that happens at your annual appointment is a nurse or your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your health and family history, including questions about:
  • Your medical history
  • Your family history
  • Your sexual health and partners
  • Your eating and exercise habits
  • Your use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
  • Your mental health history, including depression
  • Your relationships and safety
This info can help you in the future. From getting diagnosed to being protected and helping you in an emergency, this information can help save your life.

Physical Exam

At your yearly physical, you can expect your doctors or nurses to:
  • Measure your height and weight
  • Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to check if you’re at a healthy weight
  • Take your blood pressure and temperature
From there, your doctor may give you your regular preventive care screenings and shots or refer you to a specialist for certain screenings, counseling, or care.

Preventive Care

As an adult, certain preventive care and screenings are covered for you, depending on timing and what your doctor recommends.
Immunizations (Shots)
Doses, recommended timing, and need for certain immunizations can vary based on your case:
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu shot
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
Condition Screenings & Care
  • Aspirin use – To prevent heart disease for adults of a certain ages
  • Cholesterol screening – For adults of certain ages or at higher risk
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Type 2 diabetes screening – For adults with high blood pressure
  • Colorectal cancer screening – For adults over 50
  • Depression screening
Weight Management
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Diet counseling – For adults at higher risk for chronic disease
Alcohol & Tobacco Use
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Tobacco use screening – For all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
  • Lung cancer screening – For adults 55 to 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years
  •  Abdominal aortic aneurysm – A one-time screening for men of certain ages who have ever smoked
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling  – For adults at higher risk
  • Hepatitis B screening – For people at high risk, including people from countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and American-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence
  • Hepatitis C screening – For adults at increased risk and once for everyone born from 1945 to 1965
  • HIV screening – For everyone ages 15 to 65 and other ages at increased risk
  •  Syphilis screening – For adults at higher risk
Women also have some additional covered screenings and benefits. Get more details about this specific preventive care while learning about your well-woman visits. And learn more about what preventive care the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends you get and when.

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your doctor can help you manage your conditions or diseases and prevent future problems by talking to you about your life and health each year. Your doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, advice, and information to help you take care of yourself or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help you further. Your doctor is also the perfect person to help you set goals to maintain or improve your health. From quitting smoking and knowing how to self-check for cancer to changing your diet and exercise for your weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure, your doctor can help you plan to be your healthiest.

Prepare for Your Visit

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your visit.

Know Your Family History

Your family’s history of health and wellness is an important part of your own health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more. This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor

Prepare for your appointment by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask:
  • What immunizations or shots you need
  • Your diet and eating healthy food
  • Advice for exercise and getting active
  • Mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety
  • Specific issues you might be having, like sore joints, back pain, migraines, and more

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about your covered immunizations. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your member number to see what preventive care your plan covers. You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs or our Medicare preventive care guidelines to get an idea of what our plans cover. If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance. Now that you’re ready to go to your annual physical, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) and find a covered doctor, or start searching for doctors in our network.
Beat the Flu Before It Starts

The Importance of Getting That Flu Shot

Each year, you see reminders that you should get your flu shots everywhere you go. But only about 42.1 million people in the U.S. do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Less than half of adults under the age of 65 got the shot during the 2014 to 2015 flu season.

But the flu is still dangerous, and people can and do die from it each year. And we don’t know how serious the flu will be each year. From 1976 to 2007, the number of people who’ve died each year has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.

And in recent years, 80 to 90% of those deaths have been in the 65-or-older population.

So while you may not have thought the flu was a danger before, make sure you get the facts and get protected this year.

What is the Flu Season?

Flu season in the United States can start as early as October and last until as late as May. The most serious period of outbreaks usually peaks in January.

The flu makes its way through the American people during this time, and a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you each year.

Who Needs to Get the Flu Shot?

Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, but it’s especially important for kids, pregnant women, and those over 65. The flu can be more dangerous for these people and for others at high risk.

Even if you may not be in one of these groups, you should still get the shot. While you never want to get sick, it’s important to get your shot to help your community and those most at risk around you.

Like with all vaccines, the more people who get protected, the less likely the flu will appear in your community at all. The more people who aren’t protected, the more likely it is that lots of people will get sick, even those who did get protected, because it can get stronger passing between people.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Different flu vaccines work for different people, so your age, current or past health, and allergies can all affect if you should get the shot. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, and some people are at risk and should talk to their doctor first.

When Should I Get the the Shot?

You should get vaccinated as early as you can, usually before or in October. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu from the vaccines, so it’s best to get it before the flu starts to spread in your community. However, it’s better to get it early or late rather than never.

How Does the Flu Shot Work?

To make vaccines, scientists and drug makers study what strains of the flu virus happen in the lower half of the world during its flu season, June, July, and August, and use this to build flu shots for our flu season.

Depending on how well that vaccine matches the flu virus in our flu season, it can reduce the overall risk of flu by 50 to 60%.

While it helps you build your resistance to the flu, flu shots can’t actually give you the flu because the virus is dead before it’s put in the shot.

For the next flu season, shots will include 3 or 4 strains, but the nasal vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, according the CDC. Recent studies have shown it wasn’t effective in the past few flu seasons.

You need a new shot every year because your protection fades over time, and because the shot could be made up of different strains from year to year.

Get your flu shot at covered pharmacies and protect your family and community this flu season.

Wellness Visits to Prevent

Vantage Point: Wellness Visits – Well Worth Your Time

Every spring I look forward to taking my horse for a checkup. I like to hear how healthy and well taken care of he is. I cannot say I feel the same about taking time from my busy schedule for my own yearly wellness visits. Still, as I read my recent screening results and compared them to last year, I saw my scores got better. That makes me feel good about taking care of myself.

I also like the quality time I get with my doctor compared to more urgent visits when I’m sick. During the wellness exam, doctors really take the time to ask how you feel, talk about concerns and help you set health goals to help keep problem visits at bay.

Health Alliance Medicare plans cover wellness visits at no charge. Our plans also cover the routine screenings that are right for your age and gender. Please note, though, that if you bring up a problem during the wellness visit and your doctor treats or helps you deal with that problem, you might have to pay for the visit. Remember, your health is most important, so don’t be afraid to share concerns with your doctor, just be aware that doing so could change the visit from a wellness visit to something else.

Wellness (also called preventive) visits change when you move to Medicare. Medicare covers a “Welcome to Medicare” exam within 12 months of getting your Medicare Part B benefit and an annual wellness visit after that. Be sure to say you have Medicare when you schedule the exam so it is billed correctly.

Health Alliance Medicare supports members not just when they’re sick, but throughout their lives, and focuses on prevention by covering the wellness exams, immunizations, and disease screenings you need. In addition, Health Alliance Medicare may offer you a free health risk assessment with our nurse practitioner, right in the convenience of your own home. If so, I encourage you say yes to this important and free part of your coverage.

Like I do with my horse, sometimes we take care of others better than we do ourselves. But early detection of health problems through a wellness visit can save your life. The time is well worth it.

Schedule Your Doctor's Appointment

Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Scheduling Your Doctor’s Appointment

Prevention is important to maintaining good health, so it is important to know what you need each year at your doctor’s appointment.

Blood Pressure

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment, even if you don’t currently have high blood pressure, to track your levels over time.

Flu Shot

This yearly shot protects you and those you care about from the flu.

Yearly Blood Tests

You should get these blood tests at your yearly physical doctor’s appointment:

Microalbumin

This yearly test can detect early signs of kidney damage.

Dental Exam

You should set up this kind of doctor’s appointment with your dentist every 6 months for a regular cleaning.

Dilated Eye Exam

This yearly doctor’s appointment is when your eye doctor puts eye drops into your pupil so they can get a better view of the back of your eye.

Pneumococcal Shot

This one-time shot prevents blood, brain, and lung infections, like pneumonia, caused by a certain bacteria.

HbA1c

Those with diabetes should have this test at doctor’s appointments 2 to 4 times a year to help track their blood sugar levels long-term.

Foot Exam

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment for those with diabetes.

At Your Doctor’s Appointment

Ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask your doctor for advice. They want to help you be your best!

  • Prepare – Organize your questions ahead of time, and feel free to write them down if you’re afraid of forgetting anything.
  • Be Specific – Detailed information can help your doctor make your treatment plan and make sure it is working for you.
  • Tell the Truth – Be honest and direct with your doctor. Sharing information about how you feel will help you stay healthy.

Ask questions.

Not sure what to ask at your doctor’s appointment? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What’s my blood pressure, cholesterol, and health goals?
  • How frequently should I check my blood pressure?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol? Should I start a healthy diet or exercise plan?
  • What are the common side effects of my meds? Will any of my other meds, supplements, or foods interact with any of my meds?

Stay calm.

Do you get nervous or anxious when you go to doctor’s appointments? You’re not alone, and it can actually cause your blood pressure to rise while you’re there. Research shows that about 20% of patients with mild cases of high blood pressure see their blood pressure rise at doctor’s appointments. This is sometimes called white-coat syndrome.

Track your blood pressure at home and compare readings with those taken in the office to see if this is happening to you. Take these readings with you to your next doctor’s appointment and talk to them about it to make sure they get an accurate account of your blood pressure.

And once they know, your doctor can also help calm your fears, like by explaining exactly what they’re doing as they go.