It’s the inevitable check-up that your doctor urges you to get at least once a year. Test after test reveals exactly what’s going on in your body as it should. But on occasion, patients steer away from making their appointments for their annual checkup and soon forget it altogether.
“I would say about 60 percent of people show up to do your annual exams and about 40 percent don’t,” said Allene Harrison, a nurse practitioner with Absolute Care. “The healthier the city, the more people who actually show up for their physicals.”
Across Atlanta, health has become a vital part of many lives. From exercising at the gym to hitting the Beltline for cardio, it’s easy to stay in shape if you’re willing to put in the work. That work includes making sure your doctors visits are constant.
“Even before I became a primary care nurse practitioner, I feel like people over the age of 35 should really be seen annually for a wellness prevention checkup,” said Harrison. “If you can catch things pretty quickly such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, if there are some abnormalities in the kidneys, livers, those are things that should be closely monitored.”
During her physicals, Harrison leaves no stone unturned. From blood cell counts to look for any signs of infection to thyroid panels to check for thyroid disease, it’s better safe than sorry for her patients. “I do a complete metabolic panel, so I look at someone’s blood glucose levels, all of their central electrolytes, their kidneys, and liver,” she said. “I typically do some vitamin levels. I do a Vitamin D check because studies show a deficiency in Vitamin D can increase the risk of patients getting certain cancers.”
As much as her physicals can inform patients of the stability in their bodies, making it to the doctor is part of the challenge for people in rural parts of Georgia and even in metro Atlanta. In many communities, access to healthcare is limited and healthy food options are few and far between. “Whether it’s education, whether its lack of funds or socio-economic status, eating good and eating healthy can be costly,” said Harrison.
According to statistics, the average cost of a physical exam without insurance can range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars. But the good news for patients with insurance plans is that most insurance providers cover at least one wellness visit per year. Harrison says for your health and peace of mind, never miss out on what’s really going on within your body because it could save your life.