Annual physicals are exams conducted almost every year to physically examine your body to check for potential disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle. They are often required for jobs and school. Without insurance, the average cost of a physical exam ranges from $50 to $200.
If you need a physical exam but don’t have insurance, Mira can help you out. Physicals can often be done at urgent care centers, and for $45/month, you can get up-front copays at an urgent care center near you. Mira also offers same-day lab testing and up to 80% off on over 1000 prescriptions. Sign up today.
Cost of an Annual Physical
According to The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average price for someone to get an annual physical without health insurance is $199 nationwide. This can vary, however, depending on your age and any underlying medical conditions.
Your physical exam can be conducted by a primary care physician (PCP), nurse practitioner (NP), or a physician’s assistant (PA). Data shows that annual physical exams tend to cost more when seeing a PCP ($106) versus seeing a PA or an NP ($103). It’s important to weigh your options and look at your budget before making an appointment.
While most insurance providers cover the cost of an annual visit, some may not offer a free exam. These people can expect to have a copay between $10-50. Some may also face coinsurance fees, which are at least 10-50%. Before scheduling a visit, make sure you have a general understanding of your plan and health insurance in general.
Where to Get Your Annual Physical
Physical exams are typically done at your family doctor’s office. Ideally, this is where you would want to get your physical done since they understand your medical history. However, people often schedule their visit last minute, in preparation for school, sports, or even work. It can be hard to get an appointment in a time crunch. You might also be between doctors and struggling to find somewhere to get your physical done.
Annual physicals can be done at most urgent care centers. You can either go to a walk-in visit or schedule an appointment online. Urgent care visits can get expensive, but a $99 co-pay will cover the entire visit with Mira.
It’s also important to ask questions and make sure that the healthcare provider is transparent with you about any exams being conducted and any additional fees that you may run into.
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Annual Physical Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Alice Benjamin, APRN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-B, CCRN, CEN, CV-BC, is the Chief Medical Officer and Correspondent for Nurse.org and contributed to the FAQ portion of this article. She specializes in critical care and emergency medicine and has over 23 years of experience.
How often should I actually be getting a physical? Does it have to be every year?
“You should have a wellness exam (a.k.a. physical) done annually. Yes, it should be annual because a lot can happen and change over the course of one year. Changes in our behavior, lifestyle choices, what we eat, our activity, and even the environment can trigger changes in our health. So sometimes, something that was well managed can worsen if something changes. For example, you may develop allergies if you buy a dog or develop skin cancer if you start to work outdoors. And many times, these aren't things we think about but are discovered at your annual wellness visit as you talk to your provider.”
What can I expect at my annual physical visit?
“You can expect a lot of questions about your past and current health, medications, allergies, lifestyle, environment, job, partners, and recreational activities. This helps us to assess for any red flags or risk factors that may impact your health. This is why it is important, to be honest about your lifestyle when talking to your provider.
You can also expect a head-to-toe physical exam where we listen to your heart, lungs, and belly, take a look at your skin, ears, eyes, nose, and body movement/sensation. We'll look at your chest, abdomen, and belly, looking trying to make sure things aren't enlarged or bothering you. We should also be assessing your hearing and vision or at least providing you a referral to do so. We also check your weight and vital signs, including your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation. These are indicators of health.
And you can also expect some baseline blood work to check for your kidney function, electrolytes, blood sugar, cholesterol, and thyroid levels. And there are other additional lab tests and exams we'll order based on age, gender, and any complaints or concerns you or your provider may have based on a discussion about your lifestyle. For example, women may also have a pelvic and/or pap exam and a prostate exam for men. If you're older or complaining of chest pain, we may do an EKG.”
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What are physicals needed for? Are they required for school?
“Physicals should be thought of as wellness exams. The goal behind these is to keep an eye on how you're doing and focus on keeping you well and preventing illness. And if you do have a medical condition, the goal is to improve it and definitely prevent it from worsening.
This is also a time to help you anticipate changes in your body, stay current with immunizations, reassess any medications you may be on, and educate you on how to live a healthy life between annual physicals. These should be required for school. When you aren't well, it can create barriers and interfere with schooling.”
Will my insurance cover an annual physical visit?
“Your insurance should cover an annual wellness visit. Your insurance company would rather pay the cost of a health visit to keep you well than have to pay for a hospitalization that could have been prevented by addressing medical complaints or issues while they're minor.
Oftentimes when people miss their annual wellness visits, the larger problem that lands them in the hospital is one that showed signs and symptoms earlier but was missed because of a missed wellness visit.”
What other routine checkups should I be getting?
“There are several guidelines for what to check and when. Some of these are based on age and gender, and others are based on any complaints or family medical history you may have. And because of that, the timeline for these can change, and you may need to be screened sooner. But as a rule of thumb, here are some common checkups below. But always check with your health care provider because even the science and guidelines get updated, so things may change from the last time you saw your healthcare provider.
- Every visit should include screening for high blood pressure, depression
- Breast cancer screening - mammogram beginning at age 40
- Colorectal cancer screening - screening beginning at age 45
- Cervical cancer screening - pap smear every 3 years beginning at age 21
- Prostate cancer screening - PSA or rectal exam every 2-3 years beginning at age 50.”
Getting a physical exam each year is crucial for maintaining your health. It is recommended that you visit the doctor each year because your body and health are constantly changing. While most insurance companies will cover the cost, there are times when the entire visit won’t be free, or you will have to pay for co-insurance.
No one should have to forego healthcare because of the cost burden. If you don’t have insurance or a yearly physical isn’t covered under your plan, Mira can help you. For just $45 per month, you will have access to a wide range of services, including low-cost urgent care visits where you can get a physical, same-day lab testing, and discounted prescriptions. Put your health first; sign up for Mira today.
Talor graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health, and minors in Spanish and Diversity & Inclusion in May of 2022. She has a passion for health equity and diversity in health. In the future, Talor hopes to work in public health policy reform to help eliminate health disparities. She enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to podcasts in her free time.