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The Importance of Well Checks

This month we will be discussing the . . . dreaded . . . well child check! In adult circles this visit is also referred to as your physical or annual exam. Many families do indeed dread the well child check. The inconvenience! The tests! And even worse yet – the shots!

Let me tell you – as both a mom and a clinician – I am a true believer in the value of a well child check. I’d love to share with you why I feel this way:

Number 1 – This is your opportunity to discuss general health concerns that have come up. Who wouldn’t want a dedicated time with their pediatric clinician to ask questions? For example, “Do you think I’m feeding him appropriately?”, or “Do you think my child needs VPK?”. The well child check is the perfect time to ask these questions and make sure you are doing everything you can to help your child succeed. Of course, if there is a health concern, it can certainly be addressed at the same time as the well child check. Please be aware that it may be billed as a separate sick visit (some insurance companies will charge a copay for this). Also remember that I never recommend “saving up” major concerns for the well child check. If something potentially serious is going on with your child, they need to be seen in the clinic as soon as possible.

Number 2 – This is that important time where we make sure your child is growing and developing normally. Every parent wants to know that their child is within a normal range for growth!

Number 3 – Very important screenings! Want to know if your child is anemic? You’ll find out at the well child check. How about if their vision is normal? You’ll find this out as well. Screenings are determined based on the child’s age and risk factors, using established guidelines we call Bright Futures. We can even screen for things like lead poisoning, diabetes, and high cholesterol if deemed necessary.

Number 4 – Vaccinations! Have you ever been told that many vaccine-preventable diseases are only one plane ride away from your precious child? It’s scary but true. While at the well child check, your child’s immunization record will be reviewed, so we can discuss with you any required or recommended vaccines.

Number 5 – Sometimes, thankfully, very serious medical conditions are “caught” at the well child check. When this happens, often times it is in the very early stages and much more easily addressed or treated. This is opposed to waiting for serious symptoms to occur, which may mean the issue is more advanced. There have been many times in my career that I was so thankful to have seen a particular child for their well child check, because everything was not ok, but now we know and can get a care plan in place.

Number 6 – Staying up to date with your child's well child check shows them that their health is important to you. It is evidence of your investment in their health. It teaches your child to be responsible with their health and hopefully these healthy behaviors roll over into adulthood. We cannot control what our adult children do with their lives, but you can at least be certain you taught them to take care of their health!

Many parents will worry about insurance coverage for their child’s well child check. Be assured that well child checks are typically covered completely by insurance. With most plans you do not even have to pay a copay. Insurance companies love seeing that your child is up to date with their well child check. Some even have programs you can enroll in that will give you incentives to stay up to date, such as gift cards. If you are ever not sure about your coverage, please give us or your insurance company a call and we can explain your well child benefits.

I’ll leave you with a tip: In my family, we make well child checks a big event! We talk about how important every detail is – and we reward our children with a nice lunch with mom after the visit or sometimes a trip to the dollar store to pick out a toy.

So . . . get that well child check done! The benefits far outweigh those pesky tests and shots!

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