Written by Debra Beaulieu Volk
Summer vacation—for the kids, anyway—is finally here. With the water park calling, scheduling your child’s back-to-school or annual checkup may be the last thing on your mind, but early summer is actually the best time of year to do so.
1. Checkups catch signs of trouble early
Medically, we might not think of preventive care as being as important for children as it is for adults, but most pediatricians can share countless stories of catching problems during regular checkups that could have been far more serious if addressed much later.
Remember, pediatricians are trained to catch signs of trouble before symptoms really flare.
Even if you don’t need proof of a physical exam for your child this year and don’t have any scheduled vaccinations for a while, the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends an annual well-child visit. Note that well visits are different from sick visits, during which just a particular problem, such as an ear infection or allergic reaction, is the focus.
Well visits are more head-to-toe in nature, covering not just a physical exam, but also a developmental, behavioral, and learning assessment. We’ll discuss in more detail all that goes into well visits in an upcoming post.
2. Pediatricians help back you up
One reason I look forward to my children’s checkups is the opportunity to have our pediatrician reinforce behaviors I want my kids to take seriously. I don’t know about you, but my children, ages 7 and 8, are more eager to impress a role model such as their doctor than they are boring old me.
So when our pediatrician engages them in a quick discussion about the importance of eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables, wearing their bike helmets, reading for fun, and more, it makes those things an easier sell for me at home.
The start of summer is an excellent time for kids to hear these reminders.
3. You can beat the rush
Additionally, our office isn’t nearly as busy in July as it will be right before school resumes, when a lot of parents are rushing to squeeze well visits in at the last minute.
Avoid the crunch by calling our office today. Save even more time (and money) by requesting to have any forms, such as for sports participation, filled out during your child’s visit.
4. A pleasant experience is doable
We understand that some kids are not big fans of going to the doctor, which makes for a disincentive to schedule any visit that isn’t absolutely necessary. But again, once problems develop it’s too late for preventive care.
An earlier post from one of our medical assistants offers some great tips for helping children feel more at ease with the experience—and therefore less likely to put you through the wringer for bringing them.
Honestly, an annual checkup is a nice opportunity for kids to feel special and get to show off a little. My children really enjoy the attention they get from their doctor and the staff and finding out how much they’ve grown.
Shots are not their favorite, of course, but a little praise for putting up with the pinch goes a long way.
5. It’s cost-effective
Keep in mind, however, that most insurance companies will pay for one well-visit per 12-month period. So if your child’s last checkup was in September, for example, you can’t move it earlier this year, only ratchet forward (but check with your carrier to be sure).
The good news is that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans have improved their coverage for preventive care. This means more cash leftover for all of the other summer activities on your list!