Health insurance plans provide a number of preventive services that many employees don’t know are available, and some simply don’t use. What if people took advantage of the preventive services that are included in their health plans? For one, we’d be staying healthier and living longer. Each year, millions of people die preventable deaths.
If you are enrolled in a health insurance plan, it’s important to be familiar and take advantage of the preventative care services offered to you. Preventive care is any medical service that defends against health emergencies. It includes doctor visits, such as annual physicals, well-woman appointments, and dental cleanings.
Some medicines are preventive, such as immunizations, contraception, and allergy medications. Screenings, such as tests for skin cancer, high cholesterol, and colonoscopies, are also effective preventive measures.
The goal of preventive care is to help people stay healthy and to prevent life-threatening diseases. Preventative care ultimately helps keep health care costs low. Most health plans have to cover a set of preventive care services for adults, women and children at no cost to you. That means you don’t have to hit your yearly deductible or pay a copay or coinsurance to receive these services. However, it’s only free if the services are administered by a doctor or provider in your plan’s network.
All health plans must cover the following preventive services without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible1.
Covered Preventive Services Include:
- Screenings for things like cancer, depression, blood pressure, cholesterol, and tobacco use
- Immunizations, like the flu shot and Tetanus vaccine
- Patient counseling for alcohol misuse, tobacco use, and diet
An annual wellness exam or physical allows you and your primary care doctor to discuss your overall health and talk about any changes that should be made related to your lifestyle, prescription medications or treatment plans for existing health conditions. A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is also recommended with an assortment of tests to evaluate vision and eye health.
Most preventive services include immunizations, such as flu shots, and are provided at no charge to the insured if you use an in-network provider. Doctors suggest annual flu shots for children and seniors, as well as adults who have respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis or have had pneumonia. Other recommended immunizations include vaccines for pneumonia and shingles, the latter for seniors who had chicken pox as children. At your next checkup, you can ask your doctor if you’re up to date on your recommended immunizations.
Some common health screenings include: hypertension (high blood pressure); hyperglycemia (high blood sugar, a risk factor for diabetes mellitus); hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol); HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases including chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea; breast, colorectal, cervical and prostate cancers; depression; and osteoporosis.
How many people actually use preventative care?
A new study shows that only a small percentage of the mainstream population in the United States receives proper preventive care and recommends that the U.S. healthcare system revamp itself to increase use of preventive services2. The survey results found that only 8% received all their recommended high-priority preventive services, while just 22.4% received at least 76% of their recommended services. Only 16.3% received 25% or fewer, and just under 5% received none at all. Men were more likely than women to have received no recommended services at all2.
A Percentage of Annual Deaths are Preventable
Up to 40 percent of annual deaths from each of five leading US causes are preventable2. Each year, nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely from the five leading causes of death – yet 20 percent to 40 percent of the deaths from each cause could be prevented, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2.
Call your doctor today and make an appointment for your free annual exam and take advantage of these services that could save your life.
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