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!