No matter what your age, it’s important for you to have an annual physical, or routine preventive exam (RPE). The main purpose of a routine preventive exam is to detect any health issues you may have early on, before they become serious and a lot harder to treat. It’s also a good time to update your doctor on any changes in your health and family history. Tip: Schedule your annual physical near your birthday so you’re less likely to forget it!
IMPORTANT: Many insurance plans have different copayments for a Routine Physical Exam versus a regular Office Visit. If you have a new health problem or diagnosis that needs to be addressed during the course of your Routine Preventive Exam, a portion of your visit may be billed at the Routine Physical Exam copay, while the portion of your visit related to your diagnosis may apply toward your deductible and coinsurance.
What to expect during your routine preventive exam
(The following is only a general description of a routine physical examination; your actual examination may vary based on your individual needs.)
Since the focus of this appointment is prevention, your doctor may do the following:
- Ask about your current health status and medical history, lifestyle, and family medical history.
- Ask about any prescription or over-the-counter medications or nutritional supplements you are taking.
- Measure your height, weight and vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature.
- Conduct a routine assessment of your body systems. This may include your ears, nose and throat (“say ahhh”), neck area, abdominal area, nervous system (including muscle strength, reflexes and balance), skin, and extremities.
- Conduct basic screening tests. These will vary based on your age, gender and clinical guidelines. For example:
- Female: breast exam, pelvic exam including Pap smear
- Male: testicular, hernia and prostate exam
- Child: well-child exam
- Provide any needed immunizations or vaccines.
- Order routine laboratory tests such as complete blood count, chemistry panel, or urinalysis.
- Provide counseling on managing lifestyle-related health risk factors such as diet, smoking, obesity, or stress.
If your doctor detects any potential health risks, he or she may recommend additional screenings or tests.