PAP SMEAR: TEST LOOKS FOR PRESENCE OF PRECANCEROUS CELLS

A Pap smear is a procedure that screens for cervical cancer. Most women should start getting Pap smears at age 21 years and every three years after. It should be a part of your annual physical exam. The test looks for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, the opening of the uterus or womb. During the procedure, cells from the cervix are scraped away. It is not painful and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. You may bleed a little after the test is completed.

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WHAT IS A MEDICARE WELLNESS EXAM?

A Medicare Wellness Exam is a preventative screening visit your provider wants you to have once a year. This visit is free and is separate from your annual physical exam (if your plan covers annual physicals). Traditional Medicare does not pay for a physical – it only covers a Wellness Exam.  What is a Wellness Exam? The visit is covered once every 12 months (11 full months must have passed since your last visit). It is designed to help prevent disease and disability based on your current health....

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ORAL HERPES

Oral herpes is an infection caused by a specific type of the herpes simplex virus. This condition, also called HSV-1 or sometimes cold sores or fever blisters, creates painful sores on your lips, gums and tongue, as well as the roof of your mouth and sometimes the inside of your cheeks. It may even affect your nose and chin. Symptoms of oral herpes include swelling in the lymph nodes, fever, tiredness and aching muscles. While the initial infection with oral herpes occurs most often in children ages 1-2 years, ….

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The start of a new year is the perfect time to visit your primary care physician for either an annual physical or a follow-up appointment. What is the difference between seeing your provider for a physical exam versus having a follow-up appointment?


Many patients get confused about when to see their health care provider for follow-ups or annual exams. Generally, most providers want to see their patients annually to give them a physical. This is a preventive visit, during which the provider will do screenings, perform lab work to test for cholesterol or other common issues and possibly order an EKG. The provider may renew prescriptions that are due as well, but the patient should be sure to ask for a refill if needed. This preventive visit is billed with a “well” diagnosis code, so many insurances will cover it at 100 percent as part of preventive services. Traditional Medicare does NOT cover preventive visits such as an annual physical, but Medicare Advantage plans do typically cover this service.


The annual physical is different from the Medicare Wellness exam, which is also recommended annually for all patients enrolled in Medicare or Medicare Advantage. The Medicare Wellness visit is not a physical exam; rather, it is a series of important screenings and questionnaires designed by Medicare to identify potential issues or concerns. At Family Practice Associates, the Medicare Wellness visit is either performed

by one of our nurse practitioners or a registered nurse and may be scheduled at the same time as a routine visit with your regular provider. All FPA providers HIGHLY recommend their patients receive the annual Medicare Wellness visit. It is a chance to review your overall wellness with your doctor and plan for better health in the coming year.


A follow-up visit is very different from an annual physical exam. Follow-up appointments are designed so your provider can examine you for a specific condition or several chronic conditions. For example, our providers recommend all patients see their provider either every three months or every six months for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure to monitor your progress. At your follow-up visit, your provider will talk to you about your condition, update your history, perform necessary lab work, make changes to your treatment plan and refill your prescriptions. Although follow-ups are typically covered by insurance, they could be applied to your deductible, depending on your specific plan and benefits.


Both physical exams and routine follow-up visits are important parts of your

PHYSICAL EXAM VS. FOLLOW-UP: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE

treatment plan and should be scheduled according to the practice’s established guidelines. They are a good time to ask your doctor questions about all your conditions – old and new – and to share any concerns you may have about your health. You may even want to write down questions beforehand and present the list at the time of the exam(s). Being proactive and knowledgeable about your health can make a big difference in how you feel and how you take care of yourself.

DR. KEITH APPLEGATE, FAAFP

Dr. Keith Applegate co-founded Family Practice Associates of Lexington in 1987. Dr. Applegate’s objective is “to have a helpful and rewarding doctor- patient relationship that results in a healthier you.