Doctors countrywide are seeing a sharp decline in the number of patients who consult them during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Netwerk24 reported that doctors ascribe this to the misconception that doctors’ rooms are “flooded with the coronavirus”. This trend was confirmed in a recent Stats SA survey, in which 38,8% of the respondents indicated that they would not now seek medical attention for non-COVID-related medical issues.
Skipping essential health checks is not a good idea, however. The earlier a doctor can diagnose and treat a condition, the easier and more effective treatment generally is. Avoiding routine visits may prevent your doctor from making an early diagnosis or properly managing a chronic medical condition in the long term.
Get tested – safely
Healthcare facilities are properly set up to reduce the probability of COVID-19 exposure, so there’s no need to be afraid of visiting your doctor or pharmacy for a health check-up. If you are concerned, make an appointment beforehand to ensure that you don’t have to wait until the doctor or pharmacist is available to assist you, and follow the standard hygiene practices once you are at the healthcare facility. Many healthcare professionals also offer virtual consultations for check-ups that do not require a physical examination.
Use your medical aid’s preventive benefits
Before you make an appointment at your GP or pharmacy, familiarise yourself with the preventive care benefits your medical aid offers. Medihelp medical aid covers its members for a variety of annual wellness screenings, including a blood glucose, cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure test, in addition to various other preventive care benefits for men and women. These are some of the most common wellness and preventive care tests:
- Annual wellness tests
These typically include height and weight measurements, blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and BMI readings.
- Women’s health tests
These include a pelvic exam, breast exam and a Pap smear. The South African National Department of Health recommends that women undergo these exams every one to three years, depending on their risk and health history. If necessary, your healthcare provider may also do a mammogram, which is an early detection and diagnostic tool for breast cancer.
- Men’s health tests
Prostate exams are an important screening test for men and one of the best ways to diagnose rectal tumours or other forms of cancer. Medical professionals recommend that screenings begin between the ages of 40 and 50, with the frequency of the exam depending on your risk and health history.
- Bone density tests
A bone density test screens for osteoporosis, which is most common in older women. Screening is recommended for men and women over the age of 65, unless you experience a fracture or have a higher risk due to family history.
Need to get tested for COVID-19? Medihelp provides comprehensive medical aid cover at the scheme tariff in and out of hospital from members’ core benefits for COVID-19 tests, regardless of the result of the test, if certain criteria are met. Medihelp members can upload all the necessary documentation to register their treatment for PMB on the Member Zone.
Taking care of your health is now more important than ever. Make use of your Medihelp benefits for preventive care to ensure that you stay in good health during the pandemic and beyond.
Interested in joining Medihelp? Speak to an adviser or join online today.