Physicals, Checkups, Annual Exams and Wellness Visits
Physicals, Checkups, Annual Exams and Wellness Visits and are all terms often used interchangeably, but they actually have different definitions or requirements depending on your age and/or your insurance carrier/policy.
To clear up any confusion, we will briefly define each:
Checkups are short visits related to an illness, injury or other condition, as well as things such as new medications. For example, your physician may prescribe medication for an illness and request that you come back in two weeks for a quick checkup. Or you may have an injury that’s not serious, but your physician may want you to come back for a checkup in a few days or a week just to make sure that you are healing properly.
Annual exams and wellness visits are typically short examinations that focus on elements of preventative care, and they are usually fully covered by most insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid. Types of wellness visits include well-woman exams, well-child visits, and Medicare annual wellness visits.
Physicals are more involved examinations which focus more on your overall health and health goals, and many of the services are not covered by insurance. Beyond taking routine measurements, physicals typically involve examinations of the head, neck, heart, lungs, and abdomen, and the physician may suggest blood and/or urine tests. These types of exams are commonly required for students to participate in sports, as well as weekend warriors and other adults who are interested in competing or want to raise their level of fitness but feel the need to get the all-clear from a physician before they begin.