The end of the year is a time for reflection, giving back, and caring for our health. Most people meet their health insurance deductible toward the end of the year. If this is your case, consider the tests or procedures you've postponed throughout the year.
The first step is to know your deductible, which varies depending on your health insurance plan. Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers some or all of it. Once you pay your deductible, you're typically only on the hook for a copay.
That's why it's a good idea to consider scheduling medical procedures or tests before the end of the year. Here are six steps you could take to get a healthy fresh start in 2023:
1. Confirm whether you've met your deductible
Call the number on the back of your insurance card to find out your deductible status. Depending on your plan, you may have both an individual and a family deductible. Be sure to ask how this affects your deductible.
2. Contact your primary care provider
If you haven't seen your physician or advanced practice provider in a while, now may be an excellent time to do that. Even if you feel fine, you should have regular checkups to avoid problems in the future. For instance, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels may not have any symptoms. Depending on your current health status, your provider may order blood tests or screenings for your age. And if something is bothering you or you're in pain, you may need an X-ray, CT scan, or an ESG stress test.
3. Refill prescriptions
Think about any prescription medications you might be running low on. Refill them before the end of the year, and ask your provider if you can get a 90-day supply. This can be especially useful if you plan to travel abroad.
4. Get tested for breast, prostate, or lung cancer
Did you celebrate a milestone birthday this year? You may qualify for your first cancer screening now. If you're a woman who turned 40 this year, it's time for your first mammogram. Starting at 45, all men should get a colon cancer screening test to check for colorectal cancer. Men who turned 55 this year should get their prostate checked. Talk to your provider about which screenings are right for you.
5. Visit a gynecologist, dermatologist, or other specialists
Try to take care of issues you've ignored all year round, including skin moles, pain, or difficulty swallowing. Or you may be dealing with uncomfortable women's health issues and haven't seen your primary care physician, advanced provider, or OB/GYN for more than a year. You should always feel free to speak with your primary care provider if something doesn't feel right.
6. Stay up-to-date with vaccines
Flu season is underway and peaks between December and February. Get your annual flu vaccine and any COVID-19 vaccines or boosters, including the new bivalent booster, you're eligible for before the end of the year. The CDC also recommends the Td or Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus. Ask your provider about other vaccines you may need based on your age.
Staying healthy is the gift that keeps on giving. The holidays are the busiest time of the year, so don't wait until December 31 to call your provider or schedule a procedure. Call your doctor or nurse practitioner to find out what tests or treatments you should get before the end of the year.