Preventive Visit or Office Visit

When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, you may think: what type of medical appointment will insurance charge this as? 

Knowing the difference between a preventive visit and an office visit can be confusing, especially if you schedule a preventive visit and end up receiving treatment for a certain health issue, like blood pressure concerns or frequent headaches. Learn why Jenna Kemp, MD, UnityPoint Health says regardless of the type of appointment, you’ll receive the same personalized experience.

Preventive Visit: Staying Well

A medical preventive visit is a yearly doctor's appointment intended to prevent illnesses and detect health concerns early, before symptoms are noticeable. Preventive visits could be an annual physical, well-child exam, Medicare wellness exam or welcome to Medicare visit. Most insurance companies are required to cover preventive care services at no cost to patients. During your appointment, you’ll review your overall health and well-being. Depending on your age, services may include:

  • Complete physical exam
  • Immunization review and update
  • Age-appropriate heart disease screenings (blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol tests)
  • Cancer risk screenings (pelvic exam, Pap smear, prostate and colorectal screenings)
  • Sexually-transmitted disease testing
  • Evaluation for signs of depression
  • Alcohol, depression, obesity and tobacco counseling

“Each visit is unique, and there isn’t a standard lab panel or order set that everyone will automatically need,” Dr. Kemp says. “Preventive visits are an opportunity to discuss care areas, plans from other specialists and share lifestyle modifications to establish a long-term health plan. We work as a team with our patients to build trust and help align their health goals.”

Office Visit: Getting Well

An office visit is designed to discuss new or existing health issues, concerns, worries or symptoms. Your provider may order tests, prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist or provide advice and education. Office visits are covered by a standard insurance co-pay or deductible.

“We take care of people as individuals. The care involved even for the same problem is often very different. It’s not unusual for two appointments to be on the schedule for ‘headache,’ and one will be a migraine episode, while the other is related to underlying depression and insomnia. We allot the necessary amount of time to come up with a treatment plan specific to each person’s case,” Dr. Kemp says.

Keep Your Health on Point

We care about people most, it’s why we do what we do. Dr. Kemp says her, and her team’s, main goal is to establish meaningful relationships with patients.

“We have so many excellent primary care providers who truly care about their patients and work with them to be as healthy as possible. Our goal is always for patients to be respected and guided in their health through evidenced-based medical information. If you don’t feel like you’re heard or valued by your doctor, let them know!”

How to Schedule a Doctor's Appointment

To establish care with a new provider or to schedule an appointment with your current provider you can: 

Office Visit – Brief
Choose this visit type if you have 1 or 2 health concerns to talk to your provider about such as a sore throat, cough, headache, muscle pain, or urinary tract infection.

Office Visit – Extended

Choose this visit type if you have multiple or more complex health concerns to talk to your providers about, such as abdominal pain, multiple medication management and/or depression/anxiety.

Virtual Visit

 This visit type is only available for existing patients. Selecting this option does not schedule a virtual visit, but sends a request to be seen virtually to your primary care provider. Please note: not all providers offer virtual visits. For same-day virtual care options, select Virtual Urgent Care or E-Visit – SmartExam on the main menu.

Well Child Visit
Choose this visit type for regular check-ups and/or immunizations for children and teenagers.
Physical Visit
Choose this visit type if you would like to schedule a physical.