Have you had a check-up lately?

 Have you had an annual checkup lately?  For me, the month of December has been spent setting up every medical appointment imaginable.  And not because I am sick or injured. I am just trying to squeeze them in before my health insurance changes, courtesy of ObamaCare.  Oops, did I just get political? I didn’t mean to.

Anyhow, first it was the dentist, then the eye doctor, then the annual physical which spiraled into 4 more doctor visits.  Now, I am left asking myself and you, is this how the system is supposed to work? Or is it a waste of insurance dollars and my own time and money. 

The physical started out great.   The nurse finished measuring me and said  “you are 5’7””, meaning I GREW half an inch since my last visit 18 months ago.  Who gets taller after turning 40? Either the nurse had too much eggnog or the hot yoga core stretches are working wonders.  And for the first time in my life, my actual weight was less than what’s printed on my driver’s license. 

The appointment quickly went downhill from there.  Let me summarize a few of the phrases I heard from the doctor. It may not have come out exactly like this.  But this is what I heard.  “Your heartbeat is very different, you should see a cardiologist”. “You have some moles that should be inspected by a dermatologist”.  “There are some spots on your cervix I am concerned about”.    Surprisingly, the news didn’t faze me too much.

My first reaction was what an awesome, thorough doctor.  When I got home from her office, I started writing a blog about why it’s so important to get your annual check-up, even when you don’t think you need it.  Heck, I went into her office feeling the healthiest and strongest I ever remember.  

But as I visited each specialist, I became a little more skeptical.

Cardiologist-This turned into two visits. One for the doc to confirm the heartbeat was irregular and another for a tech to perform the echo cardiogram.   That’s two separate bills.   But the good news is the doctor determined whatever is causing my heartbeat issues is not a threat to my health.  Between parking and co-pays this cost me 56 dollars.  It costs the insurance company a bunch more.  Looking back, I would say these two visits were worthwhile.  I just wish it could have been done at the same time.

Dermatologist-He was quick to point out he was perplexed by my referral. In his view, he didn’t see any mole even remotely questionable.   The only thing he made sure to point out was “Are you a biker? Looks like you have a nice bike shorts tan line.”  Yes, it’s still there from May 2nd, 2010.   This to me felt like a total waste of my time and 25 dollars.  Not to mention, the doctor was 30 minutes late.

Gynecologist-She said cervix looked perfectly normal for someone who has had the procedures I have had in the past.   She said she understood why my doc sent me and reminded me, “This is why there are specialists”.  Whatever.  Another hour and another 25 dollars down the drain.  

The whole experience got me thinking.    Did I really need to spend 5 hours (not including driving time and waiting time) and more than 100 dollars to have all of these people tell me I am healthy?  In the big scheme of things I guess your health is priceless.   However, I am beginning to think there is a more economical way to approach the annual check-up.   Maybe I should have just done the annual check-up at the Gyno and skipped the general practitioner.  It’s what I used to do in the past.   The gyno could have referred me to the dermatologist and cardiologist if necessary.  Am I wrong?

I don’t want to undermine the general practice doctor.  I have never had anyone spend so much time with me and ask me so many thoughtful questions including why I choose to pass on the flu shot every year. This is only my second time seeing her.  The first time I saw her, a year and a half ago, she gave me the best tip ever for my tummy.  But based on all of these recent referrals, I am thinking she might be a little inexperienced and more comfortable with the CYA (cover your ass) approach.    

What have your experiences been with annual check-ups and doctors? Do you see a general practitioner? Should I be grateful that this doctor is so careful and cautious? Or should she know better?

I don’t regret for a minute getting the annual check-up. It’s just unfortunate, it can’t all be done at one place in one visit.