About Preventive Care

Also known as preventative care, clinical preventive health care serves to prevent or delay illnesses from occurring and discover diseases before they become too advanced to treat.

Seeking preventive care is important for every individual, no matter their age or gender group. There are various preventive health services available, both clinical and non-clinical. Some clinical services are only available to people of certain ages and genders or who have specific health needs, such as pregnant women.

Understanding Preventive Health Care

Understanding preventive health care is key to a healthy lifestyle. Avoiding the possible onset of illnesses and finding diseases in their early stages can not only serve to keep an individual in good health, but also saves money on health care costs in the long run. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans seek out preventive health care services at about half the rate recommended by professionals. This kind of medical care can help prevent chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, which account for three-quarters of the amount spent on health care nationally.

There are a few different kinds of clinical preventive services offered, such as screenings, tests, regular check-ups, vaccinations and health intervention counseling. Most preventive health care services are fully covered by health insurance plans, including Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace insurance policies.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most health insurance plans to provide certain preventive health care service to their members without a charge or fee, making it accessible and affordable for individuals and families. This helps make health care more affordable in general, as preventing a disease or treating it early on costs less than the emergency procedures that would be needed should the disease be allowed to progress.

Caring for your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Preventive mental health care helps prevent and discover any mental health issues an individual may develop or have. While genetics can be a factor in mental conditions, an individual’s environment and experiences are usually the markers for the development of an illness. Mental and behavioral health screenings typically involve a set of questions that ask about a person’s behaviors, thoughts and feelings, as well as any history of mental illness in the family.

Preventive care measures can also be taken at home in conjunction with clinical care services. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are examples of some activities that can be done at home to achieve health and wellness. Eating well and staying active can help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for many chronic diseases.

Preventive Health Care for Specific Populations

Not all preventive care measures are appropriate for everyone. Some preventive health care measures and procedures only apply to specific populations, such as men, women and children. Within these populations, people may only be eligible for particular screenings and procedures at a certain age. For example, only children less than 3 years old are eligible to receive a developmental screening, which looks for delays in speech and language development in small children.

For women, preventive health care is crucial in avoiding health issues that are specific to women. Pregnant women, especially, have important and necessary preventive care services available to them, to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery for both the mother and the child. Women who are of reproductive age and women who may become pregnant soon also have options for care, such as routine anemia screenings and folic acid supplements. Women over the age of 60 can also receive exams, such as osteoporosis screenings, which check a woman’s bone density at the age when it begins to diminish.

Men’s preventive health care services are mostly general, but also include measures specific to men of certain ages. While all adults are eligible for tobacco cessation programs, men 65 years or older who have a history of smoking should take advantage of a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Older men should also be tested regularly for colorectal and testicular cancer in addition to having regular prostate examinations.

There are several preventive health care measures for children, including screenings for newborns, infants and adolescents. All newborns are eligible to receive certain exams, such as bilirubin and blood tests. Babies should also visit a doctor regularly during their first year, typically six times before their first birthday. Young children between the ages of 18 and 24 months are also be screened for autism, if needed. Children of all ages should also receive certain types of care regularly, such as blood pressure screenings, vision exams and vaccinations.

Common Preventive Care Measures

While there are many kinds of care available for different populations, some common preventive care measures are available for all. Immunization vaccines are available to any individual, no matter his or her age, if he or she is not up to date on necessary vaccinations. Those who are overweight and are at risk of obesity should see their doctor for an obesity screening. Being overweight or obese poses other health risks, so a doctor may deem a weight loss program necessary.

Diabetes is also a large health risk that leads to the onset of other illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease. Adults should be screened for type 2 diabetes regularly, especially if they have a higher risk of developing diabetes due to genetics or other factors, such as weight and eating habits. These screenings also show if an individual has pre-diabetes, making it possible to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Tobacco addiction is a serious health risk that often causes the development of chronic illnesses or worsen existing conditions. Adults of all ages, including pregnant women, can be screened for tobacco use. Tobacco users may take part in an intervention and cessation program, which helps participants quit smoking or using tobacco.

Preventive Health Care Resources

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are more preventive health care resources available than ever before. Most health insurance providers are required by the ACA to offer clinical preventive care services at no cost to policyholders. Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace insurance policies all provide free preventive health care, as do many private health insurance policies. Those who do not have a health insurance plan or have a plan that does not cover preventive health have the option of visiting a community health center or free clinic, which offers free to low-cost health services.

There are also preventive care measures that can be taken at home to improve your general health and wellness. Maintaining a healthy diet is an important step towards good health, as is exercising regularly. Consulting your doctor about your diet and exercise needs before making any changes to your lifestyle is important, as he or she may be able to give you direction on how to make those changes safely. Improving the air quality in your home and reducing allergen and chemical exposure are also good ways to make health improvements at home.

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