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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.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Good article. Just because you have a healthy lifestyle does not mean you are free from getting any illness. Having to keep up with maintenance medicine is not fun either. Prevention is and will always be better than cure.

  2. Thanks for highlighting the importance of healthcare plans and attention to preventive healthcare. My mom is focused on taking care of our family, and she is feeling weak lately. I will ask my mom if she can file a leave so that I can bring her to the ob-gyne appointment for a check-up and medical assessments.

  3. I really liked what you said about how important it is to practice preventative care. My mom almost never goes to the doctor and I want to do what I can to help her get regular health check-ups because I love her and want her around as long as possible. Thank you for the information about how a little effort toward doing this will have the potential to make a significant impact on better health and lower healthcare costs.

  4. Thanks for explaining how it is important to take advantage of preventive health care to identify early stages of health problems. I've always just gone to the doctor when I felt sick, so I have never really received routine exams to monitor my health. Perhaps it's time I look into getting regular preventive exams done to ensure I live a longer life.

  5. I like how you said that taking care of yourself is a good way to show others that you love them because you will be more healthy and happy yourself. Doing something with women's health care, for example, would be a good way for my wife to take care of herself. That way she knows exactly what is going on with her body and we can be sure that she will be safe and okay.

  6. It is very shocking to hear that some deadly health problems are preventable. Using preventive care sounds like a great way to stay healthy for as long as possible. A good friend of mine was asking about this the other day and she would love knowing this.

  7. Hi Dawn,
    That was a great blog ,that touched on something thats especially important for all of us women as moms and daughters, sisters and caregivers. That a little preventative caring for our selfs goes a long way in our own lives and those we love. Sometimes as a mom of 4 I get so busy caring for the kids I forget to schedule my routine checkups ,you really reminded me why it's so important to not forget about ourselves.
    Thanks
    Mary

  8. Great blog, Dawn. It rings so true for many of us.

    I was at my annual breast screening today. Mammogram and then a visit with my oncologist. He reminded me that Ovarian Cancer is on the rise in the United States. He urged me to get my Preventive OB/GYN visit scheduled because the only way to detect ovarian cancer is by a physical exam by an OB/GYN.

    Please urge others to also consider all the other "Preventive" screenings that are covered in full due to Health Care Reform (i.e. mammograms, colon, etc.).

    Nice job! Jane

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