By: Troy Frink at

Many people don’t think twice about going to the doctor when they’re sick, but hesitate to go to the doctor for wellness visits. Many insurance companies cover preventive care services that can detect chronic diseases before they become huge health issues. Your health insurance company might offer these services at little or no cost, so it makes sense to take advantage of everything that is available to you.

Annual Wellness Visits

An annual wellness visit can provide your doctor or healthcare provider with a snapshot of your overall health. Here’s what to expect:

  • Height, weight, and BMI measurements
  • Blood pressure and pulse measurements
  • Basic hearing and vision tests
  • A discussion about your health concerns

Depending on the results, your doctor may also work with you to create a plan detailing which screenings, vaccinations, and other appointments you might need.

Preventive Services You Might Not Know About

Your health insurance plan may make you eligible to receive preventive services beyond what’s covered during your annual wellness visit. Many health insurance plans will pay for 100 percent of screening costs. Some commonly covered preventive services are:


  • Colon cancer screenings: Your insurance might pay for colorectal cancer tests such as screening colonoscopies and stool DNA testing. Note that diagnostic colonoscopies – colonoscopies used to further examine an abnormal result – may come with a deductible or cost-sharing.
  • Cervical and vaginal cancer screenings: Many insurance plans cover a Pap test and pelvic exam once every two years. However, if you have a high risk of developing cervical or vaginal cancer, the test frequency can increase to once per year.
  • Mammograms: Women aged 40 and older can often receive a breast cancer screening/mammogram once a year. Most health insurance plans cover mammograms at no cost to you.
  • Prostate cancer screenings: All men over 50 can receive a digital rectal exam and a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test once a year.
  • Flu Shots: Many health insurance plans will cover one flu vaccine per year.

Preventive Services for People at Risk

If your doctor determines that you are at a high risk for certain conditions or diseases, he or she can refer you for additional preventive screenings such as:


  • Diabetes screenings: Your insurance might cover screenings for diabetes if you have certain risk factors such as obesity or high triglycerides.
  • Bone mass measurement:  If you are at risk for osteoporosis or broken bones, your health insurance might pay for bone mass measurements once every two years.
  • Glaucoma test: Your insurance may pay for all or part of the test once per year if you are at a high risk. You may be responsible for paying a deductible, coinsurance or copays.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Many insurance plans cover STI testing at 100 percent if you’re at an increased risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or Hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: If you’re at a high or moderate risk for Hepatitis B, you may be able to receive a Hepatitis B shot at no cost to you.

Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements

Medicare is a great resource for preventive care for people who qualify. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) will cover the above services in full or in part for enrollees. However, you may find that coinsurance payments are outside of your budget or your unique needs are not covered. You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan to supplement those costs or add coverage.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are private insurance plans used to pay for medical expenses not covered under Original Medicare. For example, some doctors may recommend that you enroll in fitness classes to keep your cardiovascular and muscular strength up. Certain Medicare Advantage plans include a physical fitness benefit through the SilverSneakers or Silver and Fit program.

*You must be eligible for Medicare and you must enroll in Parts A and B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Supplements

Medicare Supplement plans usually do not add additional medical benefits, but cover your other costs such as deductibles and copayments. They cannot be used alongside Medicare Advantage plans, so you’ll have to choose one. Talking to a qualified benefits advisor is a great way to see what’s available and help you make a decision on a health insurance plan that can fit your needs.

*You must be eligible for Medicare and you must enroll in Parts A and B to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan.

Preventive Care for Optimum Health

Preventive care is a great way to stay healthy. Use the preventive services at your disposal to stay on top of critical health issues before they start. Check your health insurance carrier’s website to find out what they cover so you can get started on a comprehensive preventive care plan today.