A visit with a doctor once a year is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can help you stay on top of any health conditions, detect problems early on when they're easier to treat, and prevent future ones.

Getting an annual physical is like taking your car in for an oil change. You bring it in regularly to avoid any issues or a breakdown later, and with regular care, you can extend the life of your car.

Your doctor—like your mechanic—is there to help you come up with a treatment plan if something comes up. A checkup is worth that little bit of time and effort, and your body will thank you in the long run.

To schedule an annual physical today, use Find a Doctor to search for an in-network provider near you.

Doctor listens to a back with a stethoscope to assess her breathing

How to prepare for your visit

Preventive vs. diagnostic GIF

Learn the difference between preventive and diagnostic

Preventive care is care that takes place before something happens. For example, your doctor might want you to get a colonoscopy because of your age. However, if your doctor wants you to have a colonoscopy because of symptoms you're having, this is diagnostic care.

If your doctor recommends a specific test or procedure, ask if it's for preventive or diagnostic purposes. While an annual physical is one of the many preventive services that are 100% covered by most Regence health plans, not all screenings that may be ordered at your physical are considered preventive.

Write down your questions and be ready to ask them

When it comes time for your appointment, it's easy to get flustered and forget what you wanted to ask. Regence Medical Director Dr. Kenny Bramwell suggests preparing a list of questions you'd like to discuss. Bring in your list, and don't worry if you need to reference it during your appointment.

You can also ask your doctor to suggest a good website for future questions you might have. Some doctors may even be available to message with you online through a secure patient portal. Your questions are important—so make sure to find the right primary care provider who you can communicate well with.

Man writing down notes illustration
"Try to avoid the 'I should have asked' problem. Your physician wants to answer all of your questions. Be ready to ask them." —Dr. Kenny Bramwell

Know your health history

Try to learn as much as you can about your family health history. Check which immunizations you've had, assess any recent changes in your health, and be prepared to tell your doctor about any prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements that you currently take.

Know your network

Before your appointment, find out which labs are in your network. This way, you can tell your doctor where to send them—and avoid any unexpected bills. To find labs in your network, sign in at regence.com, go to Find a Doctor, and search for "labs."

Know what to expect

Most physicals include reviewing your health history, checking your vital signs, physical exams (listening to your heart and lungs, feeling your abdomen), screenings specific to age and gender, and counseling on lifestyle changes you can make to avoid health problems.

Live a longer, healthier life

Getting an annual physical can find problems before they start. Early detection can make a huge difference in outcomes—just look at the research.

Blood pressure screening icon

In November 2017, blood pressure guidelines were changed to help detect risk for heart attack earlier.

Learn more

Breast cancer screening icon

Catching breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25–30% or more, according to Breastcancer.org.

Learn more

Colon cancer screening icon

Of the approximately 51,000 people who die from colon cancer each year, about 60% of these deaths could be prevented by getting screened as recommended.

Learn more

Find a doctor today