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June 05, 2021

Cost of an annual physical more than the system can bear?

When was the last time you had a checkup? A year ago? Two?

With the cost of medical bills rising all the time, some of us may need to rethink that annual physical exam, say health-care critics.

Those annual checkups are too often a formality that siphons time and money from the healthcare system without offering definitive improvements for patients in return, they maintain.

This may be particularly when you consider that the screening tests that routinely accompany them may not be of great use, and can lead to unneeded procedures.

For instance, another new report has labelled the PSA blood test, which is generally not covered by OHIP and other provincial plans, as a marginal prostate cancer screening tool.

This year the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation joined forces with Consumer Reports to create Choosing Wisely, a guide to basic medical tests and procedures that are often performed but that don’t add much value. 

Many can have high rates of “false positives,” signaling that there may be disease, when further tests and procedures reveal none. Likewise, they can screen for conditions where early detection doesn't alter the course of the disease.

Mixed messages like those surrounding PSA keep more Canadians from taking control of cancer, getting screened regularly and living longer as a result, counter believers

How often do you have a complete physical? Given that our system isn't 'free', would you be willing to go less often?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...