Doctor writing notes during a consultation with a patient

The importance of a yearly physical

4 reasons why you should visit your doctor

When was the last time you had an annual exam?? If you can’t recall, then perhaps this year is a good time to book an appointment with your doctor. Seeing your doctor for a regular checkup is important, even if you are healthy.

Recent changes to yearly physicals in Ontario

Now referred to as personal health visits, annual physical exams are no longer believed to be required for healthy individuals. In November 2012, the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario government agreed to change the OHIP fee schedule, deeming that physical exams are no longer necessary on a yearly basis.

The change came about because of the results of a study by the Cochrane Review (2012) examining the benefits of general health checkups. The study found that annual physicals were not effective in preventing disease and were not cost effective. You can learn more about the changes in a report by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Reasons why you should still visit your doctor regularly

There are many valid reasons for you to visit your doctor on a regular basis, whether that’s annually, every 18 months or every other year, even if you are healthy. Reasons include:

  1. Benchmarking: A regular visit to the doctor allows you and your doctor to discuss and review your medical history to identify abnormalities or areas of concern. It also allows your doctor to chart your changes over time. The more data and information your doctor has, the more accurately he or she can diagnose and treat any health issues.
  2. Early detection of possible health issues: Visiting your doctor even if you are healthy is a proactive approach to your health. Talking with your doctor can bring to light signs or symptoms of medical issues. When issues are caught and addressed early, it makes treatment more effective and can help you better manage an ailment or disease.
  3. Peace of mind: There is something to be said for having peace of mind in knowing that you are healthy. Everyone has those aches and pains that make them think twice about their health. Visiting your doctor and getting a clean bill of health allows you to know for sure that you are healthy.
  4. Relationship building: Building a trusting relationship with your doctor is important. The more you see your doctor, the more comfortable you will be with fully disclosing information about your health – an important factor in assessing your overall well-being.

To get the most out of your appointment with your doctor:

  • Make a list of your health concerns
  • Bring a list of any medications you’re taking
  • Make a list of questions you may have
  • Bring a copy of your medical records if you are seeing a new doctor
  • Be completely upfront and honest

When was the last time you went to the doctor to get a physical? Do you get a yearly physical? Why or why not?

Learn more about your health care and personal health insurance coverage options by checking out our health tips.