A doctor measuring a patient’s blood pressure

Medical tests — also known as health screenings — are an important part of managing your health in your 20s. Investing in your health today can save you hassles and worries down the road as you age. It also empowers you to know more about your body and take care of it because it plays a key part in staying on top of your health through early detection, serving as a reference point of baseline health, and guiding you on preventive care.

Here are the health screenings you should take in your 20s to tap into these benefits and tips on how to access the tests you need at an affordable price in 2024.

8 Health Screenings You Should Take in Your 20s

Many health screenings exist, but there are eight basic health tests that you should take in your 20s that can help shape your lifestyle choices and healthcare decisions for years to come.

1.  Heart Screenings

Heart health might not be at the forefront of your mind in your 20s, but early screenings can set the stage for a lifetime of cardiovascular wellness. Heart screenings can vary depending on individual risk factors and medical history, but starting with basic evaluations can help catch early signs of heart issues before they become serious.

Heart screenings often include:

  • Blood pressure test: A non-invasive test using a cuff to measure the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. Regular blood pressure screenings are important in your 20s because high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) often has no symptoms but can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and stroke if left unchecked.
  • Cholesterol screening: A blood test to measure the levels of various types of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): A simple, quick test that records your heart’s electrical activity through electrodes attached to your skin.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation: Although not a direct heart screening, it’s often included as high BMI can indicate an increased risk of heart disease.

Even if you are at a lower risk of heart disease in your 20s, establishing baseline measurements for blood pressure and cholesterol can uncover potential issues that could benefit from medical intervention if necessary. Additionally, being informed about your heart health can motivate you to maintain or adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, including exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking.

2. Blood Glucose Test

The blood glucose test is important for detecting diabetes or prediabetes. It requires a small blood sample, usually taken through a finger prick or a vein in your arm. Some tests might require fasting the night before the test. 

Knowing your blood glucose levels early on can help you make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can develop slowly and quietly over several years. It is also more common in people who are obese or overweight. Therefore, testing in your 20s can provide critical early warnings that allow for timely interventions.

3. Dental Exam

Regular dental exams are a crucial component of your healthcare routine, especially in your 20s. A dental exam typically involves a visual inspection of your teeth and gums, X-rays, and sometimes cleaning to prevent dental issues like cavities or gum disease. The dentist may use various tools to check for soft spots in your teeth that indicate decay and to measure the depth of your gum pockets, which can help identify gum disease.

Dental health in your 20s is especially important because it sets the foundation for oral health in later years. Regular dental exams can detect issues like cavities, gum disease, and even oral cancer early, making treatment more straightforward and less costly. Moreover, your dentist can provide valuable advice on maintaining oral hygiene, which is the key to preventing future dental problems.

4. STD Testing

STD screening involves tests that check for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Depending on the specific STD being tested for, these tests can include various collection methods such as blood samples, urine samples, and oral swabs.

You can get tested for various sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Trichomoniasis (Trich)

Regular screening is important in your 20s — especially if you’re sexually active with multiple sex partners — because it helps to identify and treat STDs early. Some STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can have serious health consequences if left untreated, including infertility and increased risk of HIV infection. These sexual health screenings can help you detect sexual conditions early and ensure prompt treatment, which reduces the risk of transmission and complications. 

5. Skin Cancer Screening

During a skin cancer screening, a healthcare professional will perform a visual examination of your skin to look for any unusual moles, freckles, or spots that could indicate skin cancer. This test is especially important if you have risk factors such as a family history of sun exposure or skin cancer. 

You can also do a skin self-exam in between screenings to monitor your skin health. Establishing the habit of regular skin checks in your 20s can help you detect skin cancer early when it is still highly treatable.

 A doctor and patient discussing medical test results

6. Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening is typically conducted through X-ray images of the breast known as mammograms. If you are in your 20s, it usually focuses on clinical breast exams by a healthcare professional and, in some cases, self-exams unless you have serious risk factors such as genetic predispositions or family history.

During a clinical breast exam, a healthcare professional will manually examine the breast for lumps or abnormalities. Self-exams involve you checking your own breasts for lumps, changes in size or shape, or any other noticeable differences.

Breast cancer screening in your 20s is important for early detection whether you are a man or a woman, especially if you have a family history of the disease. While breast cancer is less common in people in their 20s, being aware of your breast health and any changes can lead to early intervention and a better outcome if any issues arise. 

7. Cervical Cancer Screening (For Women)

Cervical cancer screening is a women’s health screening that involves tests known as Pap smears or Pap tests and the human papillomavirus (HPV) test. A Pap test is a procedure that collects cells from the cervix — the lower, narrow end of the uterus — to look for precancerous or cancerous cells.

The HPV test looks for the presence of the human papillomavirus that can lead to cervical cancer. These tests are often done together and require a healthcare professional to use a speculum to access and visualize the cervix, and then collect a small sample of cervical cells.

This screening is crucial in your 20s because HPV infections are most common in this age group. While they often resolve on their own, some can lead to cervical cancer over time. It’s recommended to have a Pap smear every three years starting at age 21 to monitor and prevent the development of cervical cancer, regardless of sexual activity.

HPV vaccination is also recommended for prevention, but it does not replace the need for regular screenings. Detecting cervical cancer and HPV early through these health screenings is key to effective treatment and can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

8. Prostate Cancer Screening (For Men)

Prostate cancer screening is an important consideration for men as they approach their late 20s, particularly for those with a family history of the disease. The primary screening methods include the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). 

The PSA test measures the level of PSA — a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate — in the blood. A high PSA level can indicate prostate cancer or other prostate issues. The DRE involves a health care provider physically examining the prostate gland through the rectal wall to check for abnormalities.

While routine screening is typically recommended starting in the 50s, early awareness in your 20s can guide discussion about when and if you should begin screening. If you have a strong family history of prostate or related cancers, early conversations about screening can detect testicular cancer early when it is most treatable.

5 Saving Tips for Health Screenings

Being proactive, doing your research, and communicating openly with your healthcare provider about costs can help you manage and reduce medical testing expenses. There are also some other practical ways you can access health screenings at a more affordable price.

1. Take Advantage of Discount Plans

Discount health plans, like those offered by AmeriPlan, can help you save significantly on health screenings. These plans are not insurance; rather, they provide you with discounted rates on medical services at certain providers. By enrolling in a discount plan, you can access a network of healthcare providers who offer services at reduced rates.

The key is to make sure the plan you choose offers discounts on the types of tests you need. Before you enroll, verify the list of participating labs and facilities to make sure they are convenient for you, and always confirm the discounted rates in advance. Being proactive can lead to significant savings on everything from routine blood work to more specialized screenings.

2. Compare Prices

Taking time to compare prices before scheduling a test can lead to substantial savings, especially if you are paying out of pocket or have a high deductible. There are several ways you can do so:

  • Ask your healthcare provider for the specific names or codes of the tests you need.
  • Reach out to several labs or imaging centers in your area to request their cash prices or rates for those with your discount plan. Many provide this information over the phone or on their websites.
  • Use online tools and resources designed to help consumers compare healthcare costs across different providers.

By choosing the most cost-effective location, you can make an informed decision that keeps your healthcare affordable without compromising on quality.

3. Use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Leveraging an HSA or FSA is an excellent strategy to manage the costs associated with health screenings. Both HSAs and FSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible healthcare expenses, including many health screenings. This means you can save an amount equivalent to your tax rate on every dollar spent through these accounts. 

FSAs generally require you to use the funds within the plan year, while HSAs allow unused funds to roll over from year to year and even grow through investments. To maximize the benefits, plan your healthcare expenses — including any expected tests — in advance, and contribute accordingly to your HSA or FSA. 

4. Ask About Assistance Programs

Many hospitals, labs, and healthcare facilities offer financial assistance programs to help cover the costs of health screenings for those who qualify. These programs can alleviate much of the financial burden, sometimes covering the full cost of tests.

To take advantage of them, start by inquiring directly with the service provider about available assistance options. You’ll likely need to provide documentation of your financial situation, so be prepared with the necessary paperwork.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups as well. They often have resources and information on additional assistance programs. 

5. Try Community Health Centers or Clinics

Community health centers or clinics offer a sliding fee scale based on your income, making it possible to get the tests you need at an affordable price. They are designed to provide care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Additionally, they typically offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Routine blood work
  • STD screenings
  • Specialized tests

To take advantage of these services, make an appointment with community health centers or public clinics in your area. Then, inquire about their pricing structure and any required documentation to qualify for reduced rates.

Access the Care You Deserve at an Affordable Price with AmeriPlan

Monitoring your health through regular testing is key to enjoying a high quality of life for years to come. AmeriPlan is here to help you get and stay in the best health possible. We provide discounted health services and prescriptions through our Deluxe Plus plan so you can get your tests at affordable prices. Getting the dental exams and care you need is also affordable with our Dental Plus Plan, which gives discounts on everything from exams to x-rays to specialists for only $19.95 per month for the entire family — no paperwork needed.

Contact one of our AmeriPlan consultants to learn more about how these plans help you save money on your health care.

Key Takeaways on the Tests You Should Take in Your 20s in 2024 

  • Regular medical testing aids in early detection, provides a reference point for baseline health, and guides you on preventive care.
  • The eight health screenings you should take in your 20s are heart, blood glucose, dental, STD, skin cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer screenings.
  • You can save on the cost of health screenings through discount plans, price comparisons, HSAs or FSA, assistance programs, and community health centers or clinics.
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By Published On: April 1st, 2024Categories: Medical Tests

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