The health checks to keep in mind at different stages in your life
This is a Medibank Live Better article and can be viewed in full on the Medibank website here. Written by Medibank
We’re all a little guilty of procrastination when it comes to our health. It takes time out of your busy schedule to check out a health issue such as a lump, new mole or weight loss but when you feel like you’re in great shape, you may delay your check-ups even more.
Broken down by age, we’ve put together a list of the health checks you may want to consider. Some health checks can be done by your GP or a healthcare provider; others you can do yourself.
If you have specific health concerns, it’s best to discuss these with your health practitioner before you do anything else. For example, some health conditions may increase your risk of developing other conditions and different screening tests may be required.
Health checks for all adults
Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s leading causes of death. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and can lead to problems such as a stroke or heart attack if left untreated. It is important to have regular checks with your health practitioner so they can help you maintain or reduce your blood pressure through healthy lifestyle changes or prescribed medications.
How often: It is recommended for all adults over the age of 18 to have their blood pressure checked every 2 years. If you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure or heart disease, it is recommended to have more frequent checks every 6-12 months or as directed by your doctor.
Poor dental health doesn’t just affect your teeth and mouth. Tooth and gum infections can negatively impact your wellbeing, so it’s important to look after your teeth. Along with brushing your teeth twice daily (with fluoridated toothpaste), flossing daily, and avoiding smoking and sugary foods, trips to the dentist are vital to keep your mouth healthy.
How often: The Australian Dental Association recommends that if you have good basic oral health you should visit your dentist every 6-12 months. However, your dentist will advise if you need to visit more regularly. Plus, as a Medibank member, with Extras cover, you get 100% back on up to two dental check-ups every year, including x-rays, at any Members’ Choice Advantage dentist*.
* Two month waiting period applies. Limited to two dental check-ups on all extras annually. Maximum two bitewing x-rays per check-up, where clinically needed. Not available in all areas.
Vision problems can occur at any age. Small changes in your eyes can occur over time and because you may not notice any symptoms, you may not know your health is at risk. Eye checks can help identify these changes as early as possible, to treat and reduce the chance of permanent damage.
How often: Optometrists normally recommend an eye test every 2 years. However, your optical health professional will advise if you need to visit more regularly. If you are eligible, Medicare may reimburse your eye check once every 3 years, and as a Medibank member, if you have Extras cover, you get 100% back on glasses and contact lenses at our Members’ Choice optical provider^.
^ Waiting periods apply. Some lens coatings are excluded. Out of pocket costs may apply.
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Whilst anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, the risk only increases as you get older. Sunburn causes 95% of melanomas and when you consider that 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 teenagers in Australia are sunburnt over an average summer weekend you can see why skin checks are of the utmost importance for all ages.
How often: There is currently no set guidelines for how often you should have your skin checked, however the Cancer Council recommends that all adults should check and monitor your skin regularly, and visit your doctor if you notice any changes or any new suspicious spots. If you have a personal or family history and are at a greater risk of skin cancer, it’s recommended you monitor your skin every 3 months and visit your health practitioner for a full skin examination every 6 months. Check out our guide on spotting the difference between moles and melanomas.
If you’re a woman aged between 25-74, you’ll be invited to screen through the National Cervical program. You’ll be sent reminder letters ahead of your tests and it’s important that you attend when invited. Why is it important? Around 900 women are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer and over 200 women die as a result. To find out more about what your results mean, take a look at our guide and remember to keep your contact details up to date with Medicare so you don’t miss any reminders.
How often: Women who had a normal Pap smear test in the two years before 1 December 2017 will receive an invitation to attend their first Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap smear. After that you should attend a screening every 5 years unless you are asked to return for further treatment. You will be sent a reminder ahead of your test so there’s no excuse not to make the time to go. From July 2022, you can choose to collect your own sample under the supervision of a healthcare professional for guidance and instructions, and be offered a private space to collect your own sample.
Getting to know your breasts and what’s normal for you is both easy and takes very little time. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 Australian women and whilst it’s most common in women over the age of 60, it’s worthwhile familiarising yourself with the normal look and feel of your breasts. Doing this may help you to recognise changes that may warrant closer inspection; changes such as a such as a lump, a change in shape, thickening of tissue and anything else that isn’t normal for you. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, see you doctor.
How often: The Cancer Council recommends that all women should monitor the look and feel of your/their breasts regularly to help identify any changes and speak to your doctor if you notice any unusual change. BreastScreen Australia recommends getting a mammogram screening every 2 years if you are between the age of 50-74. You will be invited to have a free breast screen from the age of 50 however you can still access free breast screening from the age of 40. Again, checking yourself in the shower is an easy and quick way to have a feel of your breast and armpit area. If you do this every day it will become second nature and it’s a good habit to get into. If you’re unsure of how to check there’s helpful information here.
Nearly 1 in 2 Australians will develop a mental illness at some stage in their life. There are many ways to get support for your mental health and wellbeing. Medibank Better Minds has further information to help guide and support you through your mental health journey.
How often: There are no current recommendations for regular mental health checks, but if you are concerned about your mental health you should seek support from your health practitioner. We believe it’s important for members to get timely access to mental health support. So even if you’ve just joined or recently upgraded your cover to include mental health support, we’ll pay benefits towards psychology and counselling consultations without the need to serve any waiting periods**.
Remember, if you have any questions or concerns about your health it’s always best to chat with a GP. Medibank members with hospital cover can also call the Medibank 24/7 Nurse Phone Service±, or the 24/7 Medibank Mental Health Phone Support line± for mental health and wellbeing support.
While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).
± OSHC members should call the Student Health & Support Line on 1800 887 283.
** For members with mental health support included in their Extras cover. Annual limits apply. Counsellors must be registered with Australian Counselling Association, Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, Australian Traditional Medicine Society.
~ Available to suitable Medibank members aged 18-70 with hospital cover that includes diabetes management who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last 6 years, are above a healthy weight (BMI>27) and can access a telephone and internet.