What’s preventive care and what’s covered?

When it comes to your health, there’s no such thing as starting too early. Eating whole, nutritious foods, staying active, limiting alcohol, managing stress and getting routine checkups are all part of your preventive care.

Think of preventive care appointments like car maintenance. You likely bring your car in regularly for an oil check, tire rotation and break inspection to catch any issues and help keep your car running smoothly for as long as possible. Preventive care is routine health care that helps you stay on top of your health — and catch anything before it becomes serious. 

What’s considered preventive care?

Preventive care includes the services you get as part of your routine well exam. Most health plans cover eligible preventive care services, which means you’ll pay $0 out of pocket. Preventive care includes:

  • Your annual physical exam
  • Vaccines
  • Well-baby and well-child care
  • Recommended cancer tests and screenings at certain ages for skin, breast, colon, prostate, lung and cervical cancer
  • Other health screenings for things like osteoporosis and diabetes

Get a physical care checklist

Wondering what to expect at your appointment? Enter your information to see a checklist of common tests and screenings for your age and gender. 

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What’s not considered preventive care?

There are times when certain tests and screenings aren’t considered preventive care. Things like diagnostic care, bloodwork and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing may or may not be considered preventive.

What to expect at preventive care exams

You might be wondering where to get a physical exam. Typically, you’ll see your primary care provider (PCP) for your annual checkup. You can see any provider you’d like as long as they’re in your plan’s network. Otherwise, you may pay out of pocket for your preventive care visit. So, what is in a physical exam? Each person’s visit will look a little different, but here’s what you can expect.

Height, weight and body mass index (BMI) assessment

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of your body mass based on your height and weight. It can help you determine if you’re at a healthy weight. 

Heart rate check and heart exam

A healthy resting heart rate for adults is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm).4 During a heart exam, your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope to check for signs of heart disease, like an irregular heartbeat or murmur. 

Lab work

Regular lab work can help you and your doctor understand how well your body is functioning. Ask your doctor which tests are considered preventive (like cholesterol and blood glucose) and which you may have to pay for out of pocket (like a thyroid panel).

Blood pressure test

Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) or less.3 It’s important to know your numbers so you can keep your blood pressure in check.

Lung exam

Like a heart exam, lungs are checked for signs of disease, like wheezing or crackling.

Cancer screenings for adults

Common cancer screenings are recommended based on your age and risk factors.

Vaccines

Recommendations depend on your age and other factors. Some, like the flu shot, are recommended annually.4   See more about immunizations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can I prepare for my preventive care visit?

Make the most of the time you have with your provider during your annual checkup. Use these checklists to come prepared, and leave feeling confident and informed.

Tips to help you stay on top of your health

Did you know there are important health numbers to keep track of for your health? These numbers include knowing your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose numbers.

Find a doctor for your preventive care exam

If you’re a member with UnitedHealthcare health insurance, use our provider search to find a doctor and make an appointment for your preventive care visit.