Does the thought of scheduling diabetes check-ups make you want to chuck your phone in the trash? I don’t know about you, but my calendar is out of control, and I don’t want to make any more appointments. There’s my work schedule, my son’s school schedule, vet appointments for my two little dogs, eye appointments, and dental appointments…the list goes on. I don’t want to add another thing to my schedule, and I know you probably don’t either.
I don’t have diabetes, but I do have migraines. If I miss a check-up, I run out of the medication that prevents them, and then it gets really ugly. I end up losing a lot more time to headaches than I would have lost by going to the doctor.
I know your calendar is probably full, and I know that getting your diabetes check-ups is not likely your idea of a good time. But…I also know that getting your diabetes check-ups will save you a ton of time, money, and trouble in the long run. If you have diabetes, you need a team of experts to help you stay healthy.
These are the five most important check-ups you need to schedule every year to make sure you’re on track with taking great care of your diabetes:
Your annual physical exam.
Schedule a checkup with your family physician, internist, or mid-level provider (physician assistant or nurse practitioner). This person serves as your primary care provider (PCP). He or she can help you coordinate your healthcare with specialists. Your PCP can also order labs or other tests that need to happen on an annual basis, like your hemoglobin A1c.
If you have health insurance, the Affordable Care Act allows for a yearly checkup with your primary doctor at no cost.
If you’ve had Medicare Part B for more than a year, you can get an annual “Wellness” exam once every 12 months. The Part B deductible does not apply to the Wellness exam, so there should be no cost to you.
Your eye exam.
An eye exam is recommended every year for anyone with diabetes. Your eye doctor isn’t just checking to see if you need glasses. He or she is checking for diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to your eyes from poorly controlled blood sugars. Medicare will cover an annual eye exam every 12 months if you have diabetes.
A foot exam.
Your primary care provider may do a foot exam during your annual checkup. If not, you’ll need to see a podiatrist for a foot exam every year. A foot exam includes a visual inspection of your feet as well as the use of a monofilament — a very thin, flexible probe that your doctor will touch to different parts of your skin. This painless process is used to make sure that you have adequate sensation in your feet.
Your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) will help you adjust your eating plan to make sure that your blood sugars stay in range. Most private insurance companies cover Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), which is the name of the service provided by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Medicare covers three hours of MNT initially and two more hours every year after that. Medical Nutrition Therapy is fully covered under Medicare; there is no 20% copay.
Diabetes Self Management Education & Support (DSMES).
DSMES is a program that teaches people with diabetes what they need to know to stay in control of their health. I think of it as “Diabetes School”. You can take DSMES classes in-person or online. The first year, DSMES consists of ten hours of class. Every year after that, people with diabetes qualify for an additional two hours of DSMES. DSMES is covered by most major insurance carriers as well as Medicare.
A guide to help you schedule your diabetes checkups
Does this list seem overwhelming? Don’t worry, you’ve got all year to spread out your appointments. You’ll be well on your way to staying well in no time at all.
Need a checklist to help keep your appointments organized? Download your Diabetes Appointment Checklist here.