Which is easier: treating an illness once it’s had a chance to develop and harm the individual or catching it before it has a chance to do much damage? The answer seems obvious, which is why many health experts across the country believe that annual physicals and checkups are some of the most effective medical tools at their disposal.

However, some people are hesitant for one reason or another to go see their physicians for annual examinations. While you might think that you only need a doctor if you’re sick, going to see a doctor even when you’re not can save you time, money and a massive amount of stress by identifying health issues before it’s too late.

Health problems are the furthest thing from your mind when you feel good - what about when you don't?
Health problems are the furthest thing from your mind when you feel good – what about when you don’t?

The doctor is in, the patient is not
In an ideal world, patients would seek out preventative care at equal rates regardless of external factors like cost, cultural considerations and lack of time. However, Ridwan Shabsigh, M.D., head of the International Society of Men’s Health, told NBC News that middle-aged men represent the biggest unrepresented demographic among patients seeking annual checkups.

“If you look deeper into this – it’s fascinating,” Shabsigh said. “If you look at the data by gender, before the age of 18, the utilization of healthcare is equal by gender. After age 18, there is a dramatic reduction in health-service utilization by males.”

“40% of 40- to 50-year-old men have never had a cholesterol test in their lives.”

Shabsigh explained that 40 percent of 40- to 50-year-old men have never had a cholesterol test in their lives. A further 33 percent flatly refuse to go for an annual physical. Shabsigh believed that cultural considerations on gender roles and the perception of masculinity might contribute to the reluctance of middle-aged men to seek out preventive care.

Better safe than sorry
While men might not go see their doctors very often after they turn 18, a 2002 study from the American Journal of Public Health noted that men with salaries above $75,000 are actually more likely than average to go to annual checkups.

If the high cost of traditional medical care is what’s keeping millions of men from seeking out preventive care, then these patients need to find alternative treatment models that are more affordable than the emergency room, yet more convenient than a physician’s practice with limited hours.

Fortunately, CareWell’s urgent care centers combine affordable treatments, experienced professionals and short wait times into a single healthcare package. Often, patients can be seen in as little as 15 minutes, and the cost of treatment rarely breaks the double digits. If you happen to go to the ER, they’ll most certainly cure you – but at the cost of an arm and a leg.

It can be easy to put an annual checkup out of your focus, but it’s better to “man up” and walk into one of CareWell’s urgent care centers the next chance you get.