Are 80% Of Insured People Telling Us The Annual Exam Stinks?

by Cancergeek

Annual Exam Artwork by Cancergeek

Last night I had the privilege of joining the #HCLDR tweetchat on the topic of the annual physical. (click to see original post)

In preparation I had a few questions of my own, so did a little more digging. I found a recent article published on, “Your Annual Physical Is A Costly Ritual, Not Smart Medicine.” It linked to a JAMA article (click link here) from 2007 giving an estimation that about 44M people in the U.S. on an annual basis receive an annual exam.

Which made me think, how many people are covered by insurance in the U.S. today? According to the below graphic, it appears that in 2013 around 271.4M people in the U.S. had insurance.

Source U.S. Census Bureau 2013

Taking out the number of people under the age of 19, you get to a number of about 199.2M people with insurance in the U.S. in 2013.

That means only about 1 in 5 people, or around 20% of the population that could get a free, or low cost annual exam because they have health insurance, are not getting one.

Or simply, 80% of people with insurance decide not to get an annual exam.

Those people do not feel the need or desire to take time to see a physician, to get weighed, to have their ears, eyes, nose, throat, mouth, or pelvis examined. They do not feel the need to have their weight recorded, blood pressure taken, or lab work to be drawn.

Towards the end of the Tweet Chat the question was raised about the use of technology. I think it makes sense based on the crowd gathered in the conversation.

Yet, I think there is a more basic question that we all need to ask ourselves:

80% of insured people are NOT getting an annual exam; why not?

Are those people trying to tell us a story? What is that story? What is wrong with the annual exam? How could we improve the annual exam? How would you redesign the annual exam? Why aren’t more people using their insurance benefit to meet with a physician?

I see numerous stories to tell.

I see a world of opportunity.

What do you see? Please share your thoughts using the hashtag: #MyIdealPtExp

As always, you can email me directly at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek