It’s a well-worn adage for a reason: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And nowhere is that sentiment more relevant than in the world of health care.
The importance of preventive health care is difficult to overstate. Every year, 7 in 10 American deaths are attributed to chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes — diseases that can be minimized or even sometimes prevented with early detection and appropriate care. According to the CDC, over 100,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone in the U.S. received the recommended clinical preventive care.
WHAT IS PREVENTIVE CARE?
According to Independence Blue Cross, “Preventive care is the care you receive to prevent illnesses or diseases. It also includes counseling to prevent health problems.” This kind of care includes a wide variety of options, from annual physical examinations to blood pressure screening to behavioral therapy for those struggling with alcohol, obesity, or smoking.
The goal of preventative care is to help you safeguard against health problems and catch illnesses in the early stages of development when treatment is more straightforward and effective.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, most health plans are now required to cover recommended preventive services without charging a deductible, copayment, or co-insurance.
PREVENTIVE VS. DIAGNOSTIC
While Americans spend billions on health care every year, the vast majority of that money goes toward diagnosing and treating existing illnesses. Preventive services are those that your physician provides to prevent diseases before they cause you to have symptoms or problems.
For example, if your doctor suggests that you have a colon cancer screening because of your age or family history, that screening would be considered preventive care. As a result, it would typically be covered by the preventive care provision of your insurance plan.
On the other hand, if your doctor ordered the same test because you’ve complained of symptoms that lead him to believe you have a problem, your insurer would view the screening as diagnostic. Which means your plan might not fully cover it.
A FEW EXAMPLES OF PREVENTIVE CARE INCLUDE:
- Wellness Visits
- Immunizations & Vaccines
- Colorectal Cancer Screening
- Breast Cancer Screening
- Cervical Cancer Screening
- Obesity Screening and Counseling
- Diabetes Screening
- Depression Screening
It’s worth noting that these and other preventive care services are covered by your health insurance plan only when providers in your plan’s network perform them. If you receive these services from out-of-network providers, you’ll likely be responsible for some or all of the cost.
SAVING LIVES — AND MONEY
In addition to the 70% of deaths linked to chronic diseases that can be largely avoided through the application of preventive care, independent researchers have estimated that the use of specific preventive services such behavioral counseling for smoking can reduce the life-years lost to disease by more than 2 million per year. The CDC has also reported that “vaccination of children born between 1994 and 2016 has prevented 381 million illnesses and avoided 855,000 early deaths.”
There are also substantial financial motivations for taking a more active role in preventive care. The non-profit Washington organization Trust for America’s Health predicts a return of $5.60 for every $1 spent on proven preventive care strategies. And there are societal savings to be had as well, in terms of elevated productivity. The American Heart Association reports that, on average, an employee with cardiovascular disease costs his or her employer nearly 60 hours and over $1,100 in lost productivity per year compared to an employee without cardiovascular disease.
NOW’S THE TIME TO START
Not only do preventive care screenings help you stay healthier by monitoring your overall well-being and identifying potential problems early, but they can also reduce the out-of-pocket costs for a preventable condition that becomes chronic. That makes preventive care one of the best decisions you can make for yourself and your family.
If you’re an individual or a small business that needs help finding a plan to help achieve preventive care goals, contact Health & Benefits Partners today. Our experienced, knowledgeable team can help find the right plan for you or your team.