Some patients become confused over the necessity of a yearly physical exam. A physical exam is a comprehensive health test where a primary care physician looks at your overall health through a series of tests and conversations. 

Most physical exams start with measurements of your height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure. You may be asked to fill out a self-assessment of your mental and emotional health to determine if you need help for common things like anxiety, grief, or depression. 

Your doctor goes over any vaccinations that have boosters due or haven’t been given yet. Blood tests to check your cholesterol levels, A1C measurement to check blood sugar levels, liver function, and complete blood count, including iron levels, may also be advised. You also have time to ask questions and address anything that’s been bothering you.

Despite the importance of annual physical exams, some people believe a number of fallacies regarding them. How many of these incorrect statements have you heard? We’re here to separate the facts from the fiction when it comes to physical exams.

Eight Common Myths Regarding Physical Exams

When people come in for physicals and haven’t been recently, these are the things our doctors are told the people truly believed were factual.

Doctors Do What They Want Instead of What You Want.

If you have a good doctor, you are going to be fully involved in your care. Your doctor will listen to your concerns, go over options and tests that can address them, and help you determine the best path forward. 

Should you have a doctor who isn’t listening to you, you’re well within your rights to ask for a second opinion or a new physician. But, be reasonable. You do have to remember that a doctor has the training and expertise that you don’t. Sometimes recommendations, even if you dislike them, are made for your own benefit.

Health Exams Do More Harm Than Good.

Some people believe that annual physicals do more harm than good. They’re stressful, sure, but doctors aren’t running tests or giving harmful vaccines. Should you react to a vaccine, it happens, but you have a medical team ready to support you.

When you’re asked about allergies to items like seafood or eggs, answer honestly. If you’re not sure, say so. Some vaccines or dye tests contain items that may trigger an allergic reaction, so doctors can offer an alternative if needed.

Health Exams Provide Cookie-Cutter Care and Nothing More.

While health exams cover the same basics, they’re not cookie-cutter exams. You discuss your concerns and any medical issues you want to address. You might have a family history of diabetes or colorectal cancer that you feel should be part of your health screenings. Your doctor will go over the options and help you get scheduled for any additional testing.

Only Young Children and Older People Need Physical Exams.

Physical exams are not just for infants and toddlers and older adults. All ages should see a doctor for routine physicals. Some jobs require annual physicals, such as truck drivers with a DOT physical. 

If you’re 50 or older, you should have a physical each year. People in their late teens and 20s may be able to go every few years. Between 30 and 50, every other year is often acceptable. But, this is a general guideline and not a firm rule. If you have a family history of any concerning health condition or have a chronic health issue, follow your doctor’s guidance on scheduling check-ups.

Physical Exams Are Invasive.

Every doctor out there realizes that some tests can feel invasive and uncomfortable. They do their best to make you as comfortable as possible, even stopping a test if you’re having a hard time. No matter what a doctor does, a woman may never be completely comfortable during a pap smear and a person with needle anxiety will not find a blood draw easy. 

Physical Exams Are Only for People Who Are Sick.

The point of a check-up is to prevent serious illness. If you are sick, you’d see a doctor to determine what you have and what medications or measures to take to feel better. A check-up is meant to identify problems before you feel sick. Healthy people benefit from regular check-ups as a preventative measure.

Physical Exams Cost Too Much.

If you have health insurance, preventative care, which is what a physical exam is, is covered. Insurance companies would rather spend the money and catch health issues in the earliest stages. If you’re uninsured, there are ways to ensure you have the health check-ups you need.

Because California requires people to have health coverage, you probably have a plan. If you do not meet the individual mandate, you pay a tax penalty. Health insurance plans have to cover basic health care services with a doctor and basic hospital services, including inpatient care. Basic services include:

  • Diabetes care and supplies
  • Diagnostic services like mammograms
  • Emergency care
  • Lab tests like STD tests, pregnancy tests, and blood tests
  • Mental health care
  • Physical exams and vaccinations
  • Rehabilitation services

Physical Exams Waste Healthy People’s Time.

When you see a doctor for a physical exam, you do need about an hour for the conversations you’ll have, tests that need to be run, and general health screenings. That hour passes quickly. It’s not a waste of time, especially at Premium Urgent Care. A healthy person may learn that they have a condition that left untreated would worsen and make them sick.

A good example of this is an STD. Many do not have noticeable symptoms until they advance. If caught early, most can be treated or controlled with oral medications. Plus, you prevent the spread of an STD by getting tested regularly if you have multiple partners or just become sexually active.

Cervical cancer is another example. Symptoms won’t be noticed until the cancer advances, so a routine pap smear catches the cancer in its earliest stages when the treatment is as simple as freezing or removing the abnormal tissue.

Are You Finding It Hard to Find a Doctor?

In some areas of California, a shortage of doctors makes it hard to arrange an annual physical exam. Premium Urgent Care has doctors available to see you the same day. Use our online check-in button and fill out the quick form to get on the list to be seen. You can even fill out the paperwork online to save time.