As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Today that applies more than ever to women’s health. Medicare and most private health insurance plans are now required to cover preventive services such as cholesterol and blood pressure checks, and help to quit smoking. These are covered at no added cost to you. As a patient, you won’t even be charged a copayment or deductible for these services when provided by a health care provider in your network.
One of the covered preventive services is a Well-Woman Visit – sometimes also called an annual physical, wellness visit, or well woman exam. So now you have no excuse to not get your annual “Well Woman Visit!”
Here at Go Red For Women, we are always working to make being healthy fashionable. We’re changing social norms, and making annual physical screening a MUST for all women.
What exactly is the Well-Woman Visit? It’s an annual physical and discussion about your health that all women should get to help identify serious health concerns before they become life threatening – such as heart disease and stroke. Your Well-Woman visit will be tailored to your age, family history, past health history, and need for preventive screenings. Some services – such as checking your blood pressure, height, weight, and temperature – will be provided as needed, based on your medical and family history. (For example, if you had your cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked last year and they were normal, you likely will not need to have these screening tests done every year.) The exam will also screen for other health problems that are unique to women including mammograms for breast cancer, pap smears for cervical cancer, prenatal care, bone-mass measurements for osteoporosis; plus “gender-neutral” screenings and services such as colon cancer screening, obesity screening and counseling, and shots to prevent flu, tetanus, and pneumonia.
It may take more than one visit to get all of your recommended screenings and services. For instance, if your health care provider recommends a mammogram or colonoscopy, those services will be scheduled for a later time and you still will not owe a co-pay or deductible.
But since heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, the Well-Woman Visit should have a special emphasis on detecting the early signs of heart disease. The American Heart Association estimates that 80% of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable, and it’s always better to prevent it than treat it after it becomes life threatening. You can expect your Well-Woman Visit to include tests such as cholesterol screening, body mass index, blood pressure, and other evaluations specifically designed to help assess your heart health. It’s a great way to help lower your risk of heart attack or stroke, and give you an added boost for your peace of mind.
Why is the Well-Woman Visit something you should schedule every year? There are lots of good reasons. If you go several years between physical exams, you run the risk of a health problem going undetected and causing your body far more damage than if you catch it early. Annual physical exams also strengthen the relationship between you and your regular physician, helping your doctor be better informed on what’s going on with your health and in your personal life.
Health insurance coverage is now more affordable and accessible for millions of American women. If you don’t have health insurance, financial help is now available to make coverage affordable. If you have questions or need help signing up for insurance, you can find local help at: localhelp.healthcare.gov/. Or call the Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325.
To learn more about how the Well-Woman Visit, see: http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/sexual-health/get-your-well-woman-visit-every-year