Prochazka and Caverly are the first to admit that their findings aren't exactly groundbreaking: Due to the lack of benefits, Canadian guidelines have recommended against general check-ups since 1979. The rationale there is that these visits can do more harm to the patient - and the larger health care system - then good. More from the study:
During these health checks, an estimated $322 million is spent annually on laboratory tests that no guideline groups recommend. The costs of downstream testing and overtreatment are likely to be much larger. For example, the costs of mammography might be $4 billion a year assuming biennial screening. The cost of follow-up biopsies of normal breasts triggered by false-positive mammogram results alone is probably in the range of $14 to $70 billion annually. It is likely that follow-up testing from general health checks substantially contributes to the estimated $210 billion in annual spending on unnecessary medical services.
The United States seemed to be heading in the opposite direction of Canada: The health care law required some insurance plans to cover annual check-ups without a copayment. Even if they don't work, these exams probably aren't leaving the American health care system any time soon.