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The Importance Of Preventive Health Care

As a Senior Advisor at OneDigital, I am responsible for managing and servicing our existing client relationships.

I participate in renewal strategy meetings and often see our clients struggling with rate increases and the difficult decisions on how to cut healthcare costs while still maintaining the best benefits for employees and their families. We hear the buzzwords over and over again: consumer driven health plans, pharmacy carve outs, specialty drug management programs, tiered networks - the list goes on. Many employers are adopting these trends that will no doubt help to save the health plan money. Still, it seems to me that there is one simple resource available that is often overlooked and underutilized by many of us. This tool will help to lower the cost of healthcare without reducing employee coverage.

I'm talking about preventive health care.

I think we can all agree that not much is free anymore, but thanks to the Health Care Reform, individuals and their family members are now covered for routine age-appropriate exams and testing, at no cost.

Yet, I continue to see a common trend as I sit in utilization review meetings throughout the year—employees not utilizing the preventive care procedures available to them through their coverage. Although routine testing is one of the most basic methods of identifying early stages of health problems in order to avoid potential future catastrophic costs and potentially life-threatening conditions, we continue to see individuals who do not take advantage of these opportunities.

February is American Heart Month—a month that aims to spread awareness and raise funds for heart health nationwide. When is a better time than now to schedule those routine visits you have been putting off? Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States and the symptoms often go unnoticed. Without the proper care and identification, these issues can persist for years without our knowledge. I was affected personally when one of my family members died suddenly due to undetected heart disease. Just over two years ago, my aunt had a heart attack and died at the young age of 61. My aunt was generous with her time and was truly devoted to her family and a career she loved. Unfortunately, she was so busy with her commitments that she overlooked a task that was vital to her success. She did not visit her doctor on a regular basis because she lived an active lifestyle and always considered herself healthy. She didn’t make managing her health a priority because it may have seemed unnecessary at the time. If she had only kept up with her regular preventive visits, the heart attack that ended her life may have been prevented. Unfortunately, stories like mine are not unique; as I am sure many of you have similar ones. All too often we think, “If only he saw the doctor sooner” or “If only she had the routine screening she was due for.” Preventive Health Care is one of the most basic steps each of us can take to improve our health and impact long-term health care costs.

In addition to being American Heart Month, February is also the month in which many of us will celebrate Valentine's Day. Across the nation, thousands will buy flowers, dinner, chocolate and other tokens of affection. But, what if this year we chose to express our love in a different way and start a new trend? What if we each showed the people in our lives how much they mean to us through our own self-care? Instead of buying gifts, perhaps think about scheduling time to have a physical or another test that you may have been putting off—there is no better gift than the gift of good health. I am sure that your loved ones will appreciate it.

While the importance of preventive care is a message you have heard many times before – it is one that is worth repeating, and maybe after hearing it again, some of you might embrace it. With a little effort from each of us, we can make a significant impact toward better health and lower healthcare costs.