Physical Exams: FSA Eligibility
What is a physical exam?
Doctors encourage their patients to schedule a physical exam once per year because they are a vital component in monitoring one's state of health and spotting potential medical conditions early so they can be treated quickly and effectively. Annual physical exams also have the added benefit of allowing the patient to catch up on vaccinations, perform regular screenings for potential medical issues and speaking with one's doctor about making necessary changes to live a healthier lifestyle in the future (Healthline).
What is done during a physical exam?
A physical exam is similar to a standard checkup, but it may involve a few more diagnostic tests that are performed on an annual basis that may not be included in a standard office visit. These exams may be thorough or brief depending on the physician, but most will begin by going over a patient's recent medical history. This may also include questions about a patient's lifestyle behaviors that could have an impact on their overall health, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual health, diet and exercises.
Next, the doctor will check a patient's vital signs (heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, blood pressure), as well as listening to the heart with a stethoscope and performing a lung exam. A head and neck exam follows to examine the throat and tonsils, as well as the ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid and carotid arteries. Other possible exams could include a neurological exam to analyze reflexes, balance, and muscle strength, abdominal exams to investigate organ size and fluid buildup and finally a dermatological exam to check for any irregular skin growths.
In addition to these tests, physical exams will differ based on gender, as male patients' physical exams may also include a testicular/penis exam, hernia exam and a prostate exam. Women should expect a breast and pelvic exam to check for any abnormalities and signs of cancer in these areas, and both genders typically receive checks for sexually-transmitted diseases as well.
Last but not least, physical exams are prime opportunities for doctors to send out samples for laboratory tests that can be major indicators of an underlying medical condition. The most common tests conducted at a physical exam include a complete blood count, urinalysis, cholesterol (lipid panel) tests, blood sugar analysis and more depending on the patient's condition (WebMD).
Physical exams are seen as a vital tool in maintaining a patient's good health, and they are usually fully covered once per year for most insurance policyholders. Expenses associated with physical exams are eligible for reimbursement with consumer-directed healthcare accounts like FSAs, HSAs, and HRAs, which gives patients plenty of options to consider to cover the cost of services that can help them stay on top of their overall health year-round.