Medicals for insurance purposes
Many of us have had a medical for insurance purposes: life insurance for a mortgage or loan, or perhaps key person or critical illness cover. In these cases its important to remember it is the insurance company who dictate the terms: what questions are asked and what tests are requested. The purpose of these sorts of medicals are to answer questions relating to risk to the insurer and there is a three way sharing of information here: the patient, the doctor and the insurer. The doctor is in contract with the insurer so has obligations to them rather than to your well being.
Then there are medicals offered by large medical insurers for which you pay a fixed fee. These often come in levels of depth and complexity : a cheaper package would have less tests and an expensive package might measure everything about you inside and out! These medicals are undertaken often by non medical staff working for a fixed price dependent protocol with a doctor involved only in reviewing the results and signing off the report. Written reports are generally sent out to the patient by post and any problems discovered have to be addressed via the patients GP. If such a medical is funded in full or part by the patients employer, the report in some cases also goes to the funding body. Again this is important as it can compromise patient doctor confidentiality.
Bespoke health assessments
Bespoke medicals on the other hand start with a blank sheet and are usually undertaken in full by a doctor. Within these medicals a full medical history and examination is undertaken, with tests recommended specific to your needs and risks. There is account taken of recent test results and tests are not unnecessarily repeated. The medical may be for general health maintenance or focus down on a particular problem or set of problems. The report is generally doctor generated and discussed with the patient in full at a later appointment, to ensure understanding and allow plenty of time for discussion. Advice about lifestyle and changes to be made is generally more likely to be followed when the patient and doctor see eye to eye. Posted reports do often end up in the bin!
A medical check up is as useful as you want it to be: choose the sort of medical which you feel most likely to address your needs and answer your questions and then take notice of the findings.
Dr Jo Josson McConnell