Regular Check-ups are a Waste of Money

Laura Joszt

Although general check-ups as a way to catch diseases at early stages have been promoted for decades, a new study suggests that not only do regular check-ups fail to improve health, but they also contribute to rising health care costs.

Although general check-ups as a way to catch diseases at early stages have been promoted for decades, a new study suggests that general check-ups have no benefit.

According to the study by the Nordic Cochrane Center in Denmark and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, not only do check-ups fail to improve health, but they also contribute to rising health care costs.

After reviewing data from 14 randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-ups involving 182,000 patients, the study’s authors, Allan Prochazka, MD, MSc, and Tanner Caverly, MD, reported that there was no significant effect on total mortality. There was no reduction in cardiovascular mortality or cancer mortality, either.

Furthermore, the authors found no significant effect on hospitalizations or number of physician visits.

“General health checks do not improve important outcomes and are unlikely to ever do so based on the pooled results of this meta-analysis spanning decades of experience,” Prochazka and Caverly wrote.

A study in JAMA from January 2012 revealed that less medical intervention might benefit the industry. According to the authors of that study, the overuse of health care services — where services are provided that have no benefit or for which harms outweigh benefits — can be attributed to as much as 30% of U.S. health care spending.

Although authors Deborah Korenstein, MD; Raphael Falk, MD, MPH; Elizabeth A. Howell, MD, MPP; Tara Bishop, MD, MPH; and Salomeh Keyhani, MD, MPH, reported overuse of medical services has been declining, overuse is the most prevalent in preventive services.

Read more:

General Health Checks in Adults for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality From Disease - JAMA