This post was written by the Parkview Employer Solutions team.
Many people don’t think about visiting the doctor unless they feel sick. But scheduling your yearly check-ups and preventive screenings can significantly impact your overall health and healthcare costs over time. Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can leverage your preventive care benefits to help you live a longer, healthier life.
Commonly covered preventive services
Most health plans are required by law to cover a set of preventive services at 100% (services that are free when covered by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network). Examples of covered preventive care can include:
- Annual well-checks – This is a visit to your primary care doctor that focuses on all areas of your health, including physical and emotional, to detect health concerns early and before they become a major problem.
- Annual flu shots – These vaccines protect you against certain influenza virus strains.
- Annual mammograms – These are X-rays of breast tissue that check for abnormalities or signs of cancer. They are usually for women 40 years old and older.
- Colon screenings – A colonoscopy, fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and Cologuard® test look for colon cancer. The type of screening may vary based on a person’s age and occurrence.
- Vaccinations – These are usually administered during childhood and can include boosters (as needed) for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, etc.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol screenings
Finding what’s right for you
Your primary care physician can help coordinate what screenings and vaccinations are right for you based on your family history, age, sex, current health status and more. In doing so, you may find that your health plan covers other preventive services. If you have questions or are unsure of your specific coverage, ask your doctor or health plan provider for more information.
Advantages of utilizing your benefits
Now that you have an idea of some commonly covered services, let's discuss how they can maximize your health. Here are reasons why you should utilize your preventive care benefits:
- You will pay less over time. Preventive care lowers the risk of diseases and disabilities, mitigating the long-term cost of disease management. The more advanced or complex a health condition becomes before treatment, the more costly. Early detection is critical for better outcomes and more affordable care. Certain preventive care services are covered by your insurance plan with no deductibles, copays, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expenses. Consult your health plan to learn more.
- You can increase your life span. Taking advantage of age-appropriate preventive screenings provides an understanding of your health status. These screenings are great for disease prevention of cancer, diabetes, mental illness and more. Knowing where you stand gives you control over your health and a more proactive approach to disease prevention.
- You can prevent infections through vaccination. Vaccines play an important role in preventing infectious diseases. Not only do vaccinations protect you, but they also protect the community from the spread of preventable diseases. You receive most of your vaccinations during your childhood, but your doctor can ensure you remain up to date on boosters and other vaccines based on your exposures and lifestyle.
- You can take control of a problem. Early detection of a problem is the purpose of preventive care. If you know you are susceptible to a particular disease, you can take appropriate steps to help prevent and control further issues. You may discover at your annual well-check that you are at a higher risk of having a heart event due to your family history of heart disease if you maintain your current lifestyle. With direction from your primary care provider to quit smoking, begin an exercise program and make healthier meal choices, you learn that you can change your trajectory and avoid a future of heart disease and costly medical bills.
- You can improve the healthcare system. The more people take advantage of preventive care, the better the healthcare system's understanding of disease causation and treatment delivery. Many chronic diseases are preventable and mainly attributed to smoking, an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and alcohol use. Current trends predict that individuals with chronic illnesses will continue to increase, contributing to public health and economic implications. The more we need costly healthcare for long-term disease management, the higher healthcare prices and insurance premiums will go. We all contribute to the rising cost of healthcare, and we can help mitigate this cost through disease prevention.
- Invest in yourself. You are the only one who can take control of your life and make it what you want it to be. Your health is important and should be a priority. Life happens fast, and you want to be around for the good stuff – your child's graduation, your partner's big accomplishment, your brother's wedding, your grandchild's first steps, etc. Take the time to invest in yourself and schedule your annual well-check today.
Making the most of employer offerings
In addition to the preventive benefits offered by your health plan, check into your employer's wellness offerings. Many employers offer discounts and incentives for health and wellness initiatives (gym memberships, fitness classes, wellness challenges, healthy food, etc.), free or discounted annual wellness screenings (health risk assessment, biometrics, blood work, etc.), health fairs/coaching/education, and mental health services and resources. Your employer knows that investing in you and keeping you healthy increases their productivity while helping keep healthcare costs down.
Bottom line, take advantage of your preventive care services today (when you feel healthy), so you can significantly impact your overall health tomorrow.