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Three Ounces Of Prevention

What will it cost me? In the Washington area, you may be charged $27.93, which is 20 percent of the $139.67 that doctors are allowed to collect for the exam. However, if you haven't met your annual Medicare deductible when you receive the exam, your bill may be as high as $110.

What are they looking for? Obviously, the doctor will be looking for any medical problems that have not been detected yet. But the exam is also aimed at having the doctor counsel you on measures you should take to preserve your health.

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What can I expect at the visit? A pretty thorough exam. Your practitioner (this could be an MD, a doctor of osteopathy, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or clinical nurse specialist) is likely to ask you about:

• your medical history, including any surgeries, hospital stays, illnesses, allergies, injuries and treatments;

• your family's medical history, especially any diseases that may run in the family;

• medications and/or supplements you currently take;

• your diet and exercise habits;

• your history of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use;

• current or past problems with depression;

• hearing problems;

• trouble getting around, unsteadiness on your feet or trouble maneuvering around your home.

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