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You may be feeling invincible. You may think it’s no big deal to skip an annual wellness check. Not so but not so fast. Preventive screenings are important for your health.
Screenings help find hidden health problems early, before you have symptoms and when they are easier to treat. If you have insurance, your health plan covers a number of preventive screenings* at no cost. That means you won’t have to pay anything when you go for your exam.
The type of screening tests you may need depend on your age and other risk factors. Use this guide to learn about the screening tests that are important for men to have.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the five top causes of death in men are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, lung disease and stroke.
Every year, more than 300,000 men lose their lives to cancer. The most common cancers for men are skin, prostate, lung and colorectal. The facts drive home why regular screenings are so important. Talk to your doctor about which ones are best for you and how often you need them.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. It mostly turns up late in life and has a wide range of treatments. It’s vital that men get tested for prostate cancer regularly.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. of both men and women. Screening could prevent 60% of these deaths. A screening can find precancerous growths – called polyps – so they can be removed before turning into cancer. If cancer is found, early treatment is effective in preventing death.
Do you smoke? Talk to your doctor about your lung health, and about ways to quit. Counseling for quitting smoking may be covered by your plan. Aids to help you quit like nicotine patches may be covered, too. Check your benefits.
If you are over the age of 50, it’s time to get serious about cancer screenings. If some types of cancer run in your family, talk with your doctor about being screened earlier. Based on your results, your doctor will let you know when you should be screened again.
A blood pressure check by a health professional is easy and painless – and important. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) doesn’t always have warning signs or symptoms. Get yours tested at least every two years starting at age 18.
If your blood pressure is high, or you have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend more frequent checks. Talk with your doctor about ways to keep yours in check.
A simple blood test will let you know if your cholesterol levels are in the sweet spot. As with high blood pressure, high cholesterol doesn’t usually have symptoms. Still, if yours is high, you have a higher risk for heart disease and heart attack.
Men over the age of 35 should get a regular cholesterol test. If you are at risk for heart disease, a doctor may advise you to start earlier. Family genetics, your own medical history of heart issues, and working in a high-stress environment are some of the risk factors.
If you have high blood pressure or a family history of Type 2 diabetes, be proactive and get tested for the disease. Without proper management, Type 2 diabetes can lead to other serious health issues. In fact, people who don’t know they have Type 2 diabetes have a much higher risk for stroke and heart disease.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you feel sad and hopeless for more than two weeks, talk with your doctor about a screening for depression. Depression often gets worse if left untreated.
If you notice your vision or hearing aren’t as sharp as they used to be, go for a screening. Both are covered by your health plan.
This isn’t a complete list of all the preventive tests often covered by health plans at no charge to you. A good place to learn more about which screenings are right for you is a visit with your primary care physician or provider. Schedule a yearly exam and talk about screenings and a preventive care plan tailored to your health needs.
Don’t have a doctor? You can find a doctor or clinic that’s in your health plan’s network by using the Provider Finder® tool. Log in to your account on Blue Access for MembersSM and click on the Find Care tab to access the tool.
Or, call us at the customer service number listed on your member ID card.
Originally published 6/23/2015; Revised 2019; 2023
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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