How to Prepare for a Health Insurance Physical
When you are applying for health insurance, you will need to visit the doctor’s office for a physical. There are ways you can prepare for this physical to get lower rates on your insurance. Start preparing in the months leading to the physical and continue preparation the morning of the exam itself.
Preparing the Weeks Before the Exam
Stop smoking. If you can go three months without tobacco, you will legally be considered a non-smoker. This can bump you into a lower premium rate. Work on quitting smoking in the months leading up to your health insurance exam.
- Urine tests can detect tobacco in the system, so make sure you do not use chewing tobacco, a nicotine patch, or nicotine gum in the months leading up to the exam.
- Talk to your family and friends about wanting to quit. You can seek support online, through Narcotics Anonymous meetings, reading materials, and other outside resources. Quitting tobacco can be very difficult due to its highly addictive nature and strong physical withdrawal symptoms. You’ll need a lot of support throughout the process.
- Do not lie about your nicotine habits. Many people feel they can simply lie about their smoking habits and downplay how much they use cigarettes. To do so constitutes fraud and can lead to you being bumped off an insurance plan.
Change your diet. Cutting back on certain foods while incorporating others into your diet can help with blood test results. Try to eat a healthier diet in the months leading up to your exam. This can result in better cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate which can all result in a lower premium for you.
- Strive for a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains, and lean meats. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and fast foods in preparation for your exam. You want your body as healthy as possible.
- Avocados can be particularly helpful in preparation for an exam. They’re high in monounsaturated fat, which is a heart healthy fat your body needs, and can result in your HDL cholesterol levels going up. HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol” because it promotes strong overall health.
- Limit salt intake, as this can cause weight retention and a spike in blood pressure.
Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Coffee and alcohol can both affect your numbers during blood work. It’s best to cut out alcohol and limit caffeine intake in the weeks leading up to your exam.
- Alcohol can affect the liver, an important bodily organ. Liver function is generally tested during a health insurance exam. Binge drinking the days before tests are conducted can skew numbers. If your blood work shows no alcohol in your system, this is also a plus. Heavy drinkers are prone to a number of health problems so insurance companies are likely to offer lower rates to those who don’t drink or who drink in moderation.
- While coffee and caffeine are unlikely to cause major health problems, caffeine intake can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Work on cutting back on caffeine in the months leading up to your exam so you have no problem forgoing the morning cup of joe before your appointment.
Lose weight. Even a small weight loss of 5 or 10 pounds can put you in a lower insurance bracket. Strive to take off some weight. Aim for a loss of 1 or 2 pounds a week in the months leading up to your exam can help.
- Healthy weight loss requires a combination of moderate physical activity and calorie restriction. Reduce your caloric intake by about 500 calories a day and aim to engage in moderate aerobic activities, like running or jogging, for 30 to 40 minutes a day at least 3 times a week.
- Do not opt for fasts or crash diets, as the weight you’ll lose will be mostly water weight. It will come back on quickly and your metabolism can be affected by yo-yo dieting.
Getting Ready the Day Of the Exam
Sleep well the night before. A lack of sleep can cause excess stress, which can affect blood pressure levels during your exam. Aim to get at least 8 to 9 hours of healthy, restful sleep the night before your exam. Try to do something to relax before bed, like taking a warm bath. Avoid electronic screens in the hours leading up to bedtime, as the blue light can stimulate brain activity that makes sleeping difficult. If you’re having trouble sleeping for more than 20 minutes, get up and read a book until you begin to feel sleepy.
Do not exercise before the exam. While regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, exercising before your exam can actually lead to inaccurate cholesterol readings. Try to avoid working out within the 24 hours leading up to your exam.
Skip breakfast and coffee. Avoiding food or caffeine in the morning of the exam can help. Your blood pressure and any other exams or blood work required can be negatively affected by food and stimulants.
- As stated, coffee can skew blood pressure readings so do not indulge in any caffeine intake until after exams are complete.
- Fasting at least four hours before blood tests can yield better results. Try to schedule an exam early in the morning and have a healthy meal the night before. Then, skip breakfast and go straight to your exam.
Have a glass of water. If you’re not eating or drinking coffee, producing a urine sample might prove difficult. Try having a glass of water before you leave for the exam. You’ll likely end up needing to urinate around the time you arrive for the exam and a urine sample is usually requested early on.
Taking the Exam
Dress light. Heavier clothing can add a few pounds to the scale. While this might not seem like a big deal, a 2 or 3 pound difference could you put you in a higher health bracket and result in higher premiums. Wear lighter clothing, and make sure to wear garments with sleeves that can easily roll up. You’ll have to do so to get your blood pressure taken and to get blood drawn.
Stay calm while getting your blood pressure taken. If you’re nervous while getting blood pressure taken, this can affect results. Try to stay calm in the waiting room as your vitals are usually the first thing a nurse or doctor will take.
- If the hospital allows, see if your blood pressure can be taken after the exam itself. You may be feeling calmer then, especially if you’re afraid of needles or other aspects of a doctor’s office.
- Find ways to relax in the exam room while waiting to have your blood pressure taken. Practice deep breathing exercises, call a friend, read a book, or do a relaxing activity like a crossword puzzle.
- Deep, soothing breaths can also help. Breathing in through your nose and taking air down into your abdomen can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Stand up straight when your height and weight are taken. Weight/height charts often determine insurance premiums. Slouching can cause you to lose half an inch or more when your height is taken, affecting how much it’s appropriate for you to weigh. Stand up as straight as possible when doctors take your height so you can get an accurate measurement.