If you’re a healthy adult, you might not go to the doctor unless something is wrong. This may not be a bad thing, depending on your age, gender, family history of disease and personal preferences, but getting a checkup periodically is a good step to staying healthy and developing a relationship with your physician.

What’s a Screening Test?

During a checkup, your doctor can make sure you are up to date for any suggested screening tests. Screening tests are used to detect disease before symptoms appear. The goal of screening is to find disease early so that it can be managed or reduce the likelihood that the disease will make you very ill. A checkup also allows you to “know your numbers”: your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index which are important markers of your overall health.

The website offers a wealth of checkup-related information. It lists basic screening testsactions you can take as a patient to get more out of your checkup, questions to ask your doctor about tests for specific conditions like colorectal cancer and osteoporosis, and more.

What Screening Tests Do You Need?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes recommendations for adults that can help you decide when to get health screenings for things such as blood pressure, cholesterol, various cancers, depression, sexually transmitted infections and immunizations and vaccinations; you and your doctor may decide whether you should be seen more or less often.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force publishes guides to preventive services for major diseases and other health risks. Information on recommendations for adults, children and adolescents is available.

WebMD has a slideshow about several common women’s health screenings

WebMD also has a video for moms-to-be on prenatal screenings during various stages of pregnancy

How Much Will the Yearly Check-Up Cost Me?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires that most health plans must cover a set of preventive services such as shots and screening tests without charging you with a copayment or coinsurance, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. Consult your insurance plan for more details.

Original post by the Center for Advancing Health. Updated by the GW Cancer Institute January 2016.