We usually decide it’s time to head to the doctor when we’re sick and in need of medical attention, but the key to staying healthier and not needing medical attention is to practice preventive care and see your doctor on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 100,000 lives would be saved each year if everyone in this country received the recommended clinical preventive care they need.
We often joke that men are physician averse unless body parts are falling off, but the truth is people of all genders skip necessary doctor visits. What may often deter many of us from scheduling critical doctor visits is the feared cost and the anxiety that comes from trying to navigate the health-care system.
We’re making it simple for you: Don’t ditch these types of preventive care:
- Screenings. Adults should be screened regularly for high blood pressure, depression, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and substance abuse, depending on a person’s gender, age and health. In most cases, screenings are administered during routine wellness visits to determine whether a person may have a serious health condition. This enables people to seek treatment earlier and to take steps to lower the risk of the condition getting worse. For example, monitoring and keeping blood pressure under control has proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease by 33 percent—and by 50 percent among people with diabetes.
- Immunizations. Each year, 42,000 children are saved by required immunizations, but many people assume these regular vaccines are just for children. They’re wrong. Immunizations are for people of all ages. Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to prevent harmful diseases, including those that may lead to hospitalization or even death. One of the most common immunizations that nearly every American is recommended to receive on an annual basis is the flu shot, which has become a serious health concern in recent years. The CDC has a schedule of certain immunizations, depending on your age.
- Mental Health. Just having a chat with your primary care physician about your lifestyle habits may impact your overall health. Make sure to share details of your diet, how regularly you exercise, whether or not you smoke, how often you drink alcohol and whether or not you have unprotected sex. Your doctor can use this information to help guide you to the tools and resources you may need to live a healthier life.
Because preventive care may have a significant effect on long-term health, many health plans have eliminated the concern about cost by covering these three services entirely, without required copays or deductibles. Check your individual health plan to see what’s covered for you.