In a world where virus­es run ram­pant across the globe and health­care costs are sky­rock­et­ing, there is an easy way for you and your fam­i­ly to stay healthy—preventive care services.

Pre­ven­tive is defined as “used to stop some­thing bad from hap­pen­ing.” Pre­ven­tive care is care that thwarts off ill­ness or dis­ease thanks to reg­u­lar check-ups, coun­sel­ing, and screen­ings. When you sub­scribe to a health plan—regardless of whether it’s one offered by your work or one you pur­chase in the marketplace—most plans will include an array of pre­ven­tive care ser­vices free of charge.  So, where do you start with access­ing these ser­vices? It’s easy!

Easy as 1–2‑3

As long as you have sub­scribed to a health plan after 2010, those plan providers are required by law to offer basic pre­ven­tive care ser­vices to you and those cov­ered by your plan with no addi­tion­al copay, coin­sur­ance, or require­ment to meet a deductible. By uti­liz­ing this free resource, you are set­ting your­self up for greater health success—and it’s as easy as 1–2‑3!

     1. Vis­it your doc­tor for annu­al checkups.

Annu­al exams allow doc­tors to iden­ti­fy dis­ease ear­li­er and man­age chron­ic con­di­tions clos­er. They also help your doc­tor to track any changes in your body over the years so that, should a dis­ease or ill­ness befall you, there is back­ground data from your pre­ven­tive care to refer to as they pre­scribe treat­ment. An easy way to remem­ber to sched­ule these annu­al doc­tor appoint­ments for both you and your fam­i­ly is to plan them around your birth­day each year. This is also help­ful for the doc­tor because as you age, you need addi­tion­al health screen­ings so they can have those rec­om­men­da­tions ready for you at your annu­al appointment.

     2. Stay up-to-date on immu­niza­tions and boosters.

Just as an infant has an immu­niza­tion sched­ule that the pedi­a­tri­cian fol­lows to bol­ster the child’s immune sys­tem, so do old­er chil­dren and even adults. For instance, before chil­dren enter a cer­tain grade in school, they may be required to have a menin­gi­tis boost­er. Tetanus shots are only good for 10 years so once a decade, you’ll need to get a boost­er for this dis­ease which also may include the diph­the­ria vac­cine and some­times one for per­tus­sis. As you age, you may need the shin­gles vac­cine and oth­er shots for pre­ven­tion of pneu­mo­nia or the flu.

     3. Fol­low a care sched­ule for addi­tion­al age-relat­ed screenings.

Because you are vis­it­ing your doc­tor annu­al­ly for reg­u­lar check­ups, they will like­ly alert you to any addi­tion­al screen­ings they rec­om­mend.  For instance, women ages 40–44 can begin get­ting mam­mo­grams to help detect breast can­cer. After age 44, it is rec­om­mend­ed they get this screen­ing annu­al­ly.  If you want to be pro-active and keep track of these addi­tion­al screen­ings your­self, there are tools online to do so.

MyHealthfind­er is a site coor­di­nat­ed by the US Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. Sim­ply enter your age and answer a few easy ques­tions, and the site will cull a list of sug­gest­ed screen­ings for you.

Pub­licHealth is anoth­er site with sug­gest­ed pre­ven­tive care ser­vices. They have cre­at­ed a life­time care sched­ule, bro­ken into age brack­ets, with lists of screen­ings rec­om­mend­ed for each age by the Nation­al Insti­tute of Health (NIH).

Keep­ing you and your fam­i­ly on the right track for health and well­ness is not hard! By fol­low these three sim­ple steps for your health care, you can sig­nif­i­cant­ly affect your health in the future. It’s as easy as 1–2‑3!