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Why you should have an annual wellness exam

It’s important to go to your doctor every year for an annual wellness exam, even if you aren’t sick. And the earlier you can see your provider for an annual wellness exam, the better. When you have your annual wellness exam early in the year, you can work with your doctor to set up a care plan and schedule any follow-up preventive care for later in the year.

person in doctor officeWhat is an annual wellness exam?

An annual wellness exam is a yearly visit you have with your doctor to talk about your overall health. During this time, your doctor can ask you questions about your health, screen for illnesses and order tests. An annual wellness exam is the perfect time to talk with your doctor about preventive care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting routine preventive care can help you live a healthier life. Annual wellness exams also help your doctor create a health plan for you to help address any current or potential health issues.

What to expect during a wellness visit

When you meet with your doctor for an annual wellness exam, they will want to review any conditions you have seen them for previously to see if there are any changes in your health. Depending on the visit, your doctor may schedule follow-up visits.

General health checks

What your doctor talks to you about at your annual wellness exam may vary based on your age, but may include:

  • Measuring your height, weight and body mass index (BMI)
  • Listening to your heart and lungs
  • Checking your ears and eyes
  • Checking your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Asking you about the medications and/or supplements you may be taking

In addition to general health checks, your doctor may tell you about any preventive care services you may need. Preventive care generally refers to services that are aimed at preventing illnesses and diseases before they happen, and can include things like cancer screenings, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, as well as vaccines for the flu and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Preventive screenings

Here are some common preventive cancer screenings recommended by the CDC, which your doctor may mention to you:

According to the World Health Organization, detecting cancer early or before it develops can help ensure treatment is easier, more effective and less expensive.

Preventive tests

Here are some of the tests your doctor may recommend to you:

  • Cholesterol screening
  • Blood sugar A1C testing
  • Eye exam

Preventive vaccines

Additionally, your doctor may talk with you about staying up to date on preventive vaccines and booster shots. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Flu (every year)
  • COVID-19
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (up to age 26)
  • Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) or tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)

What to tell your doctor during your annual wellness exam

When you meet with your doctor for an annual wellness exam, let them know about any health and lifestyle changes or events. Keeping your doctor informed of your health will help them have an entire picture of your overall health and wellbeing.

Here are some things to share with your doctor the next time you meet:

  • New medications and/or supplements that you are taking, including allergy and pain-relieving medicines, or new prescription drugs or treatment plans
  • Any new diagnosis you may have received after seeing a specialist, such as an eye doctor or mental health specialist
  • Recent hospital visits or hospitalizations since your last annual wellness exam
  • Any new lifestyle changes, such as starting a new exercise routine or making changes to your diet

Don’t have a doctor? We can help.

Having a provider who you go to regularly for all your primary care needs is an important part of getting and staying healthy. Blue Cross of Idaho members can find an in-network provider in a few different ways.

On the Blue Cross of Idaho member website

Log in to your member account and select Find Care. There, you can search and find a list of providers in your network.

Use our member app

Log in to the Blue Cross of Idaho member app and select Find Care to search for care, at home or on the go. From there you can search for the name of a provider or select an option like Urgent Care or Medical Care to find a list of results.

Download the member app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Call for help

Call the Blue Cross of Idaho Customer Service Department at the number on the back of your member ID card.


Written by: Blue Cross of Idaho

Posted: February 1, 2024