Health insurance isn’t only for free birth control or for when you’re sick. Understanding the specifics of your plan can also help make things easier if you get in an accident or get sick. You can use it for routine check ups and visits to help you maintain your health.
The Pill Club’s medical professionals recommend investing in preventative care and booking certain exams and screenings depending on your age and health history to keep you healthy! Our friends at the Women’s Preventative Services Initiative are experts in this and have made this helpful resource, detailing recommendations by age and health history. The Affordable Care Act requires that most health plans cover these screenings at no cost to you, but your specific plan can still vary, so be sure to check yours before booking appointments.
- Screening for Cervical Cancer: You should get screened for cervical cancer every 3-5 years as recommended by your provider. Depending on your age and health history, this may be in the form of a Pap test, HPV test, or both.
- HIV Screening and Education: You should refresh your understanding of HIV and your risk assessment at least once a year and all women should be tested for HIV at least once during their lifetime. If you’re at a higher risk—such as having multiple sexual partners, not using a condom, or sharing needles—you should consider annual or more frequent tests.
- Counseling for Sexually Transmitted Infections: If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to connect with a health care provider to talk about your sexual history and behavior to understand your risk factors for contracting STIs including HIV and ways to practice safe sex.
- Breast Cancer Screening: If you’re 40 or older and at normal risk for breast cancer, you should consider getting a mammogram regularly. If you are at higher risk, such as a family history of breast cancer, speak with your provider about the right cadence for you.
- Screening for Urinary Incontinence: Urinary Incontinence—or a loss of control of your bladder—affects twice as many women as men, largely because of pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. This preventative service is recommended annually.
- Screening for Anxiety: Given the high prevalence of anxiety disorders, lack of recognition in clinical practice, and problems associated with untreated anxiety, it’s a good idea to get screened if you haven’t done so recently.
- Screening and Counseling for Interpersonal and Domestic Violence: At least annually, you should discuss healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics with a provider. No one deserves sexual or domestic violence. If you’re experiencing domestic violence, your provider can help. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.
Well-Woman Preventive Visits
In many cases, you can tick off multiple exams in one visit, often called a wellness visit, well woman exam, or annual exam—even though these are no longer recommended to be strictly annual. These types of visits help you understand and take care of multiple elements of your reproductive system and if needed, will include the pelvic exam, pap smear, and breast exam and can help coordinate other preventative services and care.