Primary care providers are not just the people you see when sick or injured. They can help prevent many issues from happening in the first place. In fact, your relationship with your primary care provider can and should be the cornerstone of your care.
In a previous post in The Blueprint, we explained the beneficial reasons for having a primary care provider. Now, we’re here to help you make the most of your appointment with six questions to ask your doctor — whether you’re seeing a primary care provider for the first time or want to get more out of your relationship with your current doctor. Doing so will help lay the foundation for your relationship and your long-term health needs.
1. How Often Should I Get A Checkup?
Your doctor will take into consideration your age, health, medications, any medical conditions and other information in determining an appropriate appointment schedule. A generally healthy person may see a primary care provider once a year, however, your doctor is likely to schedule more frequent visits if you have or are at risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
2. What Screening Tests Do You Recommend?
Typically, your primary care provider will ask you to fill out comprehensive documents to get an understanding of your health history and that of your family. This will enable your doctor to personalize your care. Depending on the information you provide, your doctor may recommend certain screenings and lab tests. No matter your health history, you will most likely be screened for blood pressure and cholesterol to determine your risk for heart disease and stroke.
3. What Vaccines Should I Have?
Your primary care provider should be up to date on the latest vaccine recommendations set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s important to share your vaccination history and ask if you are due or eligible for any vaccines or boosters. Depending on the time of year, your appointment may be the perfect opportunity to receive your annual flu shot. Even though COVID-19 is a top public health priority now, the CDC reports the flu is still responsible for 38 million illnesses and 22,000 deaths each year.
4. Are My Feelings of Stress Normal?
There’s no doubt about it: the pandemic has taken a toll on our behavioral health. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. In The Blueprint, we’ve provided strategies to reduce stress, recommendations for self-care while working from home and help with managing anxiety during this time of isolation. Last year, Blue KC introduced a new set of comprehensive behavioral health offerings called Mindful by Blue KC, which includes access to resources like self-guided tools and online therapy. However, there is no substitute for a one-on-one discussion with your primary care provider. He or she can help you determine the best path forward for your optimal whole-body health and well-being.
5. Is There Anything I Should do to Improve My Health?
Many of us could take steps to improve our health. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating healthier foods and physical activity. Primary care providers are well-versed in providing guidance on how to make healthy changes. You can also check out relevant content on The Blueprint including tips for healthy aging, managing stress and how to meal prep.
6. Are There Less Expensive Options for My Medications?
Prescription drugs costs can vary wildly. When a primary care provider prescribes medication for you, it is important to know if it’s the most affordable option. Here’s where Rx Savings Solutions from Blue KC can help. The secure online tool can help you find ways to save, whether it’s finding a less expensive formulation (such as pills versus capsules) or a generic version. The Rx Savings Solutions staff can even work directly with your doctor to help you switch to less expensive options, if available. The prescription-price comparison service is free of charge to all members and their covered dependents.
Remember that primary care providers are here for you and want you to live your healthiest life possible. Use this discussion guide as a starting point on your journey to take charge of your health. Find a primary care provider by using the Find Care feature on BlueKC.com or by calling the number on your Blue KC member ID card.