An annual checkup is good for your health - in more ways than one
Getting an annual checkup is important, even if you're healthy. Visiting
your primary care provider (PCP) every year for regular preventive care gives
you the best chance of staying healthy. PCPs can identify potential health
issues before they cause long-term damage, and if your provider
Someone you can trust
also called annual physicals, help you build a relationship with your PCP so
you feel safe and comfortable sharing information about your health. During
each visit, your PCP asks you about your family health history and current
health issues and concerns. Over time,
Your PCP can give you:
- Prescriptions and other treatment recommendations
- Preventive screenings and tests
- Referrals to see specialists, if needed
How to prepare for an annual checkup
Before your appointment, try to gather as much of your medical information as you can. In addition, bring your medication bottles so you can ask your provider questions about each medication. Your PCP's office will also tell you which documents to bring, such as:
- A health risk assessment (if you've had one)
- Complete family and personal medical history
- Insurance cards
- List of current medical and mental health providers
- List of current prescriptions and supplements, or bring the containers with you
- Recent screening and lab test results
- Vaccination records
It's also helpful to bring a notebook and something to write with in case you want to take notes. Some people also like to bring a friend or family member for support.
What to expect at an annual checkup
An annual checkup includes a physical exam and
If you're at increased risk for certain health conditions, your PCP may recommend blood tests and other screenings.
Mental health matters
Your mental health is another important part of your overall wellness. Your annual checkup includes screenings for mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, so be prepared to answer questions about your mood and if you're dealing with any stress. Be honest. Mental health issues can affect your quality of life and impact your physical health. They can also be treated like any other health condition.
Be sure to ask any questions you might have. Sometimes it can feel awkward to talk about certain things, but it's perfectly normal to discuss how you're feeling — and your provider will be glad you did.
Annual visits after age 65
Medicare covers annual wellness visits for adults age 65 and older who have had Medicare Part B for more than a year. These visits are similar to — but not the same as — the annual checkup you had when you were younger.
Before an annual wellness visit, you might be asked to complete a health risk assessment that gives you and your PCP information about current and future health risks. You'll review the results during your visit. Annual wellness visits also include blood pressure and weight checks, as annual physicals do, but they also include screenings for dementia and hearing loss.
Medicare coverage for annual wellness visits differs from coverage for annual physicals, which need to be scheduled separately.
Don't forget vaccinations
During your annual checkup, your PCP can make sure you're following the recommended vaccine schedule. Vaccines provide complete protection at every stage of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following vaccinations for adults age 19 or older:
- Flu: Annually
- Hepatitis B (HepB): Two to four doses
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): Two or three doses depending on when the initial dose was administered
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR): One or two doses
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap): One dose with boosters every 10 years
- Varicella: Two doses
Ready to schedule your annual checkup? Find a primary care provider at