Get Screened

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Screenings (also called screening tests) are medical tests that doctors use to check for diseases and health conditions before there are any signs or symptoms. Screenings help find problems early on, when they may be easier to treat.

Getting recommended screening tests is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Depending on your age, sex, and medical history, you may need to be screened for things like:

  • Certain types of cancer
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis or weak bones
  • STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Mental health conditions, like depression
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Take Action!

Take Action: Get Ready

Talk with your doctor or nurse about which screening tests are right for you.

Find out which screening tests you may need.

Use the myhealthfinder tool to get personalized preventive services recommendations. Print out the list and take it with you to your next doctor’s appointment.

Gather your family’s medical history.

Talk to your relatives to find out which diseases run in your family. Use this family health history tool to keep track of what you learn. Share this information with your doctor.

Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.

Going to the doctor can be stressful. It can help to write down your questions ahead of time.

Check out these questions for the doctor about screenings for:

You can also use this tool to build your own list of questions for the doctor.

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Take Action: See Your Doctor

Talk with your doctor about getting screened.

Having a conversation with your doctor or nurse can help you understand which screenings you need – and how often to get them. You may need to get certain tests once a year. You may need other tests more or less often.

Tell your doctor or nurse about diseases that run in your family, and share any concerns you have about your health. This will help you decide together which screening tests are right for you.

If you don’t have a doctor or nurse, check out these tips on choosing a doctor you can trust.

Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits. 

When your doctor recommends a screening, ask questions about the risks and benefits. All screening tests have potential risks. For example, some tests can cause problems like bleeding or infection.

Sometimes, tests can give the wrong result. You could be told you have a disease when you don't (false positive). This could lead to more tests that also have risks. 

Your doctor can help you decide if the benefits outweigh the risks for you.

Make sure you get the results from every screening.

If the doctor doesn’t call you after your test, don’t worry. You may need to call the doctor’s office to get your test results. And if you don’t understand what the results mean, ask the doctor or nurse to explain them to you.

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Take Action: Cost and Insurance

What about cost?

The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to cover many screening tests. This means you may be able to get screening tests at no cost to you. Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan.

Even if you don't have insurance, you can still get important screening tests. Find a health center near you to learn more.

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