Preventative care–also known as preventative health services–is a form of health care dedicated to helping find and prevent health problems before they occur. Many healthcare plans feature preventative care in their coverage, meaning that appointments or visits booked to prevent health problems are covered by insurance.
No matter what your insurance status is, preventative care is a crucial part of living a healthy life. A 2015 study showed that only 8% of Americans receive the preventative care recommended for them. 5% don’t receive any preventative care at all.
Preventative Care Services
Adult preventative care usually involves screening for chronic conditions and lifestyle adjustments when needed.
Preventative care services for adults include:
- Blood pressure and cholesterol tests
- Screening tests for diabetes
- Screening tests for breast, cervical, colorectal, testicular, and prostate cancer
- Flu shots and vaccinations
- Counseling for lifestyle adjustments such as eating healthfully, losing weight, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol use
- Screening for mental health disorders like depression
Preventative care for children involves screening for certain conditions related to development, vaccinations, and annual check-ups.
Preventative services for children include:
- Vaccinations (notably polio, DTaP, MMR, and chicken pox)
- Well-baby and well-child visits (routine check-ups performed every year to monitor a child’s growth and development milestones)
- Screening for developmental and mental disorders like autism and depression
It’s important that you make an effort to learn what you can about your family’s health history and your own medical background. Certain conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes can run in families. Getting a sense of what health concerns might be hereditary for you can provoke health care providers to screen you more frequently for those conditions. If high cholesterol runs in your family, for instance, your doctor may elect to have you undergo lipid panel testing more frequently than you might otherwise to ensure that you don’t develop the condition.
Similarly, if you have a history of previously diagnosed health conditions or a history of adverse reactions to certain medications or procedures, you should inform your health care provider about what these are.
You should also be honest about your lifestyle. A recent study found that 47% of adults lie to their doctor. Many adults lie about their diet, substance use, and exercise habits. Preventative care is meant to help reduce the risk of complications caused by unhealthy habits (like smoking, drinking excessively, or eating unhealthfully). Being open and honest with your doctor about these factors can help ensure that you are getting the care you need.
If you only see a doctor when you are unwell, you’re already too late. Scheduling regular preventative care like annual check-ups, screening tests, and vaccinations can help you detect health problems before they cause you any discomfort. Preventative care plays a key role in helping you live a long and healthy life.