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Still, 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. It is important to get regular cancer screenings. Talk to your doctor to find out what kinds of screening you need and how often.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, except for cancers of the skin. 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. But the good news is a 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, such as the nicotine patch, may be covered, too. Check your benefits.
If you are over the age of 50, it’s likely time to get screened for cancer. If any of types of cancer run in your family, you should talk to you doctor about getting screened earlier. Based on what is found, your doctor will let you know when you’ll need the next exam.
High blood pressure
Getting your blood pressure tested by a health professional is easy and painless. A cuff is placed around your arm and inflated, and your heartbeat is measured as the cuff deflates. There’s really no excuse not to do it.
High blood pressure or hypertension doesn’t always come with signs or symptoms, so it’s smart to get tested. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor can talk with you about how to bring it down.
You should get tested at least every two years starting at age 18. You may be told to have it checked again in a year, or more often, if your doctor has concerns.
Some pharmacies have free blood pressure check machines you can use to check for yourself.
A simple blood test is all that’s needed to check your cholesterol. Like with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels may not have any symptoms.
Having high cholesterol leaves you at risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
Men over the age of 35 should get a cholesterol test regularly. If you are at risk of getting heart disease, a doctor may advise you to start around age 20. A family history of high cholesterol or heart problems, your own previous heart problems or working in a high-stress environment are some risk factors.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you have high blood pressure, it may be a good idea to get tested for type 2 diabetes, too. If it’s not managed properly, diabetes can lead to other health problems. In fact, people who don’t know they have type 2 diabetes have a much higher risk for stroke and heart disease.
Another reason to check for diabetes is if you have a family history of diabetes, since family members can have the same risk factors.
Don’t forget about your mental health. It’s as important as your physical health. If you are feeling sad and hopeless for more than two weeks, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting screened for depression. Depression often gets worse if left untreated.
Vision and Hearing
If you are having vision or hearing problems, go in for a screening. Both are covered by your plan.
This is not the full list of preventive tests that are often covered by health plans at no charge. A good place to start to find out what screenings you need is to schedule a yearly exam with a primary care physician or other provider at a primary care practice.
Don’t have a doctor? We’ve got that covered. 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 a Doctor or Hospital tab to access the tool.
Or, call us at the customer service number listed on your member ID card.
*Preventive services at no cost applies only to members enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans. You may have to pay all or part of the cost of preventive care if your health plan is grandfathered. To find out if your plan is grandfathered or non-grandfathered, call the customer service number on your member ID card.
Originally published August 17, 2015; Revised 2019
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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