Many of us would like to know what the future holds, especially when it comes to our health. Medical screenings are a great tool for early diagnosis and prevention of diseases, but not all screenings are necessarily needed by everyone.  It is important for you and your doctor to determine which screenings are most beneficial for you.

Commercial screening companies have approached businesses and organizations across the state about being host sites for community screening days.  While the convenience and affordability of these services may be attractive to some, these types of screenings present several concerns that you should be aware of before you get screened.

Community businesses and organizations may have been targeted by these companies because of the trust and respect they have in a particular community. Many times, they will agree to host screenings because they are unaware of typical screening protocol and want to help others. Screening companies may also offer them a portion of the profits for hosting a screening.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health does not recommend commercial screening processes outside of a medical facility or without orders from a doctor. Doctors are aware of your medical history and family history -- two important factors in determining if you need to be screened for certain diseases. Some screenings should only be done for those of us that meet certain criteria such as age, race, sex or have high risk factors. You may not meet any of these.

Many times commercial screening companies will screen for everything, regardless of whether you need it. Some of their screenings have high occurrences of "false positives" or incorrect readings.  This could cause you to make unnecessary follow-up visits for more testing. This additional testing may be much more invasive. In the end, it could cause you a lot of needless stress and anxiety about your health as well as being costly and time consuming.

     Be aware that commercial screening companies may ask for you to pay the entire amount of the screening up front, and they will bill your insurance company so you can be reimbursed. Insurance companies may refuse to pay for the screenings because they are not medically necessary for you or ordered by your doctor. Always check with your insurance company before participating in any screening.

If you are concerned about your health, seek medical advice from your doctor or your local health department. You may also want to review The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality screening recommendations for chronic diseases. It can be found at

To learn more, contact your county office for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. .


Steve Davis, deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health 
Debbie Murray, associate director for Health Education through Extension Leadership
Doug Scutchfield, Peter P. Bosomworth Professor of Health Services Research and Policy