Stay on top of your health with these important checks
Regular health checks can help you stay fit and well, while identifying any early warning signs of common health conditions. To help you know what to book yourself in for, here are some health checks to consider as recommended by Healthdirect Australia.
What checks do I need and when?
Looking after your health is all about being proactive rather than waiting for any bigger issues to develop. Picking up things like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and many cancers in their early stages can make all the difference in getting the treatment you need, and improving your health outcomes.
Of course, your doctor may recommend even more checks if you have a particular health concern or family history. So make sure the first thing you tick off is a chat with your GP!
IN YOUR 40s
Dental check-up A regular trip to the dentist can help keep your teeth and gums in tip top shape and prevent (often more costly) treatment down the track. Our Extras cover gives you up to 2 no-gap preventative dental check-ups every year at Teachers Health Centres and dental providers in our network, including x-rays, clean and polish, and a fluoride treatment*.
Blood pressure check Although you can still feel totally well when you have high blood pressure, it can put you at higher risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke, so it’s a good test to tick off regularly. Recommended at least every 2 years, you can check your blood pressure by visiting your GP (and if your doctor bulk bills, it's free for Medicare card holders). Many pharmacists also offer blood pressure checks too. High blood pressure is also common in people with diabetes, who should get it checked regularly. If you need to keep a closer eye on things, blood pressure monitors are included* in our Top Extras cover.
Eye test Having an eye test every 2 years will not only ensure you’ve got the right specs to read those pesky food labels, but check for serious problems like macular degeneration and glaucoma. It’s bulk billed at our Teachers Health Centres and optical providers, where you can get some stylish prescription specs on your Extras cover while you’re at it*.
Heart disease risk assessment To see if you’re at risk for heart disease, this one’s recommended every 2 years. Your doctor can check things like your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and lifestyle (including whether you smoke). Check with your doctor if it will be bulk billed.
Blood glucose test This should be done every 3 years to check for diabetes. It’s often bulk billed but check with your GP first. It’s important not to wait until you have symptoms, as this mightn’t happen until your glucose is quite high. If you do have diabetes and your doctor recommends monitoring your blood sugar levels yourself, our Top Extras covers you for a blood glucose monitor*. To see if you may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you can also use the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool.
Cholesterol test It’s good to check your cholesterol every 5 years, as it can show if you have a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. If you have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you might need to be tested more often. Again, check if it’s bulk billed.
Cervical screening Proven to protect women from cervical cancer, this test should be done every 5 years. If your doctor bulk bills, it should be free for Medicare card holders (double tick!).
Skin cancer check For us sun-loving Aussies, this is one to do regularly. As well as checking your skin yourself and knowing what to look for, your doctor or a skin specialist can do a more thorough check. You may be able to claim for this on Medicare, but ask how much is covered. In addition, the Healthy Lifestyle benefit that’s part of our Extras cover can go towards screenings like mole mapping, which can help to detect skin cancers early.
See Healthdirect’s recommendations on managing your health in your 40s.
IN YOUR 50s
All the above health checks apply, plus:
Mammogram As well as checking your breasts yourself regularly, you should book in for a mammogram every 2 years. (Your doctor may organise more checks if you’re at higher risk.) If you’re between 50 and 74, you’ll get a letter from BreastScreen inviting you to be screened for free. (If your mammogram isn’t covered by Medicare, the Healthy Lifestyle benefit that’s part of our Extras cover may help to cover the cost.)
Bowel cancer test The experts say you should test for bowel cancer every 2 years, even if you have no symptoms or family history. If you’re between 50 and 74, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program will send you a free test every 2 years. (If you need a bowel cancer test that’s not covered by Medicare, our Healthy Lifestyle benefit may help with the cost.) Don’t be shy, this test saves lives!
Osteoporosis risk assessment Being prone to osteoporosis puts you at risk of fractures, so your doctor may regularly check your bone health every year as you get older. Your bone density can be measured with a simple scan that takes around 15 minutes – there’s a Medicare benefit in certain cases or you may be able to claim under our Healthy Lifestyle benefit*.
See Healthdirect’s recommendations on managing your health in your 50s.
IN YOUR 60s
All the above health checks apply, plus:
Flu vax and other shots An annual flu jab is especially important as you get older. Once you’re 65 it’s free under the National Immunisation Program. To be ready for flu season, a good time to get your shot is in April or May. Keep in mind you may need to wait a few weeks between different types of vaccinations – including the COVID-19 vaccination – so check with your doctor. You may also want to get a shot to protect yourself against shingles. It’s also recommended that people 65 and over get a combination diphtheria shot if your last vax was over 10 years ago. Find out more about vaccinations for seniors.
Hearing test From catching up with friends and family to putting your feet up in front of your favourite show, hearing well helps you enjoy life to the full. Having a regular hearing test can help to identify any issues early and prevent other problems. Our Top Extras covers hearing aids and audiology consultations*.
Fall assessment If you’re over 65, your doctor may check your risk of falls, which can become a concern as we get older. There are lots of ways to prevent falls including exercises to help you feel more confident on your feet, walking aids, improving things around your home and checking your meds aren’t making you unsteady.
See Healthdirect’s recommendations on managing your health in your 60s.
70s AND OVER
All the above health checks apply, plus:
Additional shots The shingles vax is free if you’re between 70 and 79 under the National Immunisation Program. The pneumococcal vax is another one recommended if you’re 70 or over. See more on vaccinations for seniors.
Hearing and eye tests Now’s the time you might want to up your hearing tests to yearly. Remember, our Top Extras covers hearing aids and audiology consultations*. You may also want to have your eyes checked more often (as recommended by your GP). Remember, it’s bulk billed at our Teachers Health Centres and optical providers.
Kidney disease assessment When those two hardworking kidneys are so important, you’ll want to tick this one off every 1-2 years if you’re at high risk of kidney disease. After all, early treatment can help prevent things like heart disease, high blood pressure and even kidney failure. Your GP may ask you some questions, check your blood pressure and do a urine test, if they bulk bill, it should be free for Medicare card holders.
Diabetes Your doctor may check for diabetes every year if you’re at increased risk. This includes a blood test to check your glucose level, which is often bulk billed (but check first). If you do need to monitor your blood sugar, our Top Extras covers you for a blood glucose monitor*. To check your risk of type 2 diabetes, you can also use the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool.
Stroke risk assessment As more than 4 in 5 strokes are preventable, you may also want to talk to your GP about a stroke risk assessment. This is something you should be checked for yearly if you’re at high risk.
Skin cancer checks If you’re at high risk for skin cancer, you should have a complete skin check every 6 to 12 months if you’re in this age group.
Cholesterol check The experts recommend that you up your cholesterol checks to every 1 to 2 years if you’re at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dementia screening This is another check that your doctor may suggest now if you’re high risk or have any symptoms, as early diagnosis can help people get support quickly or in some cases identify a treatable condition.
See Healthdirect’s recommendations on managing your health in your 70s and older.
To help you be proactive about your health, see what’s covered by our Top Extras, Essential Extras and StarterPak (Basic Plus) or read more about our Healthy Lifestyle benefit. You can also book an eye test or dental check at one of our Teachers Health Centres or find a provider near you.
* Subject to your level of cover and remaining limits. Other eligibility criteria may apply.