We all avoid the doctor at one time or another. In many cases, if you don’t feel your health has declined or changed, you may be tempted to skip the annual visit altogether. Young adults are especially guilty of this habit, many citing lack of insurance or time as their reason to skip out on a check-up.
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the percentage of insured young adults under 26 increased by 6% from 2010 to 2011. However, the percentage of young adults who sought out routine preventative screenings only increased by 3.7%. What caused this disconnect, and why are young women so uninterested in scheduling a checkup?
Bridging the Care Gap
Regular check-ups are critical to everyone’s health, but young women in particular benefit from regular access to a doctor. Catching signs of health issues early, making sure their reproductive health is being assessed and being listened to can help prevent costly treatments later on. However, young women still find excuses to avoid the doctor. Below, we break down a few common arguments — and debunk them:
- “I don’t have the time.”
It can definitely be tough to schedule an appointment at a convenient time. You’re a busy person, but ignoring preventative care now can end up costing you a lot more time if a problem occurs down the road.
- “You don’t need yearly physicals anymore.”
It’s true that many professionals are dialing back the frequency of head-to-toe physicals and some of the screenings they routinely provide. But where preventive care is concerned, the info you share through communication is often just as valuable as the information you get from your test results.
- “I don’t need a check-up, I’m healthy!”
Absolutely, but check-ups help keep you that way. And, just as importantly, scheduling a checkup maintains your relationship with your doctor—a key aspect of managing your health.
Benefits of Regular Checkups
Why should young women see their doctors regularly? Here’s why regular checkups are beneficial, regardless of good or bad health:
- Build a Relationship: Let’s face it, going to a new doctor can be almost as awkward as meeting up with a Tinder date. But that’s exactly why you should make the effort to set up regular appointments. After all, this is the (professional) person you will visit to discuss everything from minor illness to concerns about STIs.Healthcare professionals who are familiar with individuals’ habits and lifestyles can help manage health much more effectively. A doctor who knows details like what medications you take, or even what you like to eat for breakfast, will be quicker to identify emerging issues.
If you visit a different doctor every time you need to go, you’ll have to explain your whole medical history over and over again, and this may mean the doctor misses changes in your health due to a lack of knowledge. Scheduling regular checkups is a smart way to save yourself time and energy, and possibly prevent health issues from going unnoticed.
- Stay Up to Date: In the medical field, recommendations in terms of checkups and screenings can change, and by avoiding regular appointments with your doctor you potentially miss out on a variety of preventive measures. For instance, the US Preventive Services Task Force now suggests that all sexually active women under the age of 24 receive gonorrhea and chlamydia screenings regularly.Another forgotten aspect of young women’s health is vaccinations. These are critical to keep up to date, but most people don’t just carry their records around with them. Your doctor can let you know when you’re due for boosters, and other recommended vaccinations— like the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is recommended for women under 26.
- Get Good Advice: People tend to think that doctors are only useful if you’re sick, but usually don’t realize the wealth of information and resources they can provide. Young women’s health can be affected by anything from work schedules, to dietary habits, and mental health.Forming a relationship with your doctor and talking to them about your lifestyle will allow them to monitor your health more effectively. Don’t forget that doctors can also provide referrals to specialists and mental health professionals if you ever need them.
Many young women use check-ups as an opportunity to ask all the little questions that build up throughout the year. These appointments are the key to opening a healthy channel of communication with your doctor, and improve your care and outcomes. Remember to check with your insurance company regarding your benefits.