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Are annual physicals headed for extinction?

For years, it’s been the big push: Make sure you visit the doctor for your annual physical. Don’t forget your annual physical. Have you had your annual physical yet?

But now the mainstream claims maybe you don’t need to see the doctor so often after all… maybe you can just skip it… maybe all you need to do is call him when you feel crummy.

Two recent reports — an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine and one in the New York Times — are pushing to get rid of annual physicals, claiming they’re unnecessary, a waste of time, and maybe even harmful.

But let me tell you what’s REALLY going on here. And yes, you can “thank” Obamacare beancounters for this.

They’ve created a monster, a system where 17 million new patients and counting have been given “free” access to doctors — but the same system didn’t create a single new doctor.

In fact, when many doctors saw what was coming down the pike, they actually packed up and retired early!

Those who are left are overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid and in many cases undertrained. They can’t handle the lines they have out the door… and they certainly don’t have the time to give patients a full physical anymore.

A good one should take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, but we’re living in an age where docs are supposed to have everyone out of the exam room in 10 minutes or less.

So this isn’t about saving patients. This is about saving time and money.

That’s even darkly hinted at in the New England Journal of Medicine, which says fewer trips to the doctor’s office will improve the “value” of the healthcare system and save $10 billion a year.

I’m willing to buy store-brand products to save some scratch. I’m happy to drive an extra mile or two to save a dime per gallon of gas. I’ll even clip the occasional coupon, so I like a “value” as much as anyone.

But there’s one place I won’t cheapskate — and that’s my health. There, I don’t want value… I want results!

It’s true you won’t get those results if your doc is a pill-pushing hack who just blindly prescribes meds. But if your doc is a true partner in your health, you need to work closely with him — and that means making sure you’re in there for your annual physical.

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