As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true when it comes to managing your health, for it is far better to prevent disease than to treat it.
Preventive care involves regularly focusing on your health — from getting annual check-ups and regular screenings to making sure you’re up to date with immunizations and vaccines. Your doctor can best advise you based on your age, gender, personal and family health history, current condition and health concerns.
Here are four reasons why preventive health makes a difference:
1. Early detection
With early detection, many health problems can be avoided altogether or effectively treated in their beginning stages. For example, the American Heart Association estimates that 80% of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are preventable. Yet, it’s the nation’s number-one killer and most expensive disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country, although many kinds of cancer can be prevented or caught in its earliest phases, when it can be treated most successfully.
2. Risk factor control
There are controllable and uncontrollable risk factors when it comes to disease. Uncontrollable risk factors — like family history, age, gender and race — cannot be changed, whereas controllable risk factors are lifestyle-related and, therefore, can be. Some of these include diet, stress, being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, alcohol use and smoking.
For example, research has shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes, such as losing a modest amount of weight by following a reduced-calorie eating plan and being physically active most days of the week, even if someone is at high risk. Interestingly, diabetes is one of the biggest risk factors for kidney disease and is the number-one cause of kidney failure; high blood pressure is the number-two cause. Both can be controlled. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are the three top controllable risk factors for heart disease. The CDC reports that nearly half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of these three key risk factors.
3. Reduced costs of health care spending
Many people skip seeing their doctor at recommended intervals because they feel there’s no reason to spend money on a visit to a health professional when they’re not sick. In 2020, nearly one in three U.S. families (32%) decided not to seek medical care in the prior 12 months because of cost, according to an online nationwide Bankrate survey among roughly 2,500 adults. This included everything from doctor visits and medications, to vaccinations, annual exams, vision checks and more.
What many individuals don’t realize is that getting routine medical care is only a fraction of the cost of living with a chronic condition, which often requires expensive prescription maintenance medication, equipment and frequent doctor visits. While insurance may cover many of these expenses, copays and deductibles remain the responsibility of the patient.
Consider individuals with type 2 diabetes. For those who are covered by insurance, typical out-of-pocket costs consist of a prescription drug copay ranging from $10 to $50 per month, depending on the drug. If the person takes multiple drugs, copays can total $200 a month or more. The cost skyrockets for those without health insurance, for example diabetes medication costs $200 to $500 or more a month for a multi-drug regimen that could include other classes of oral medications. Insulin pumps cost between $4,500 and $6,500 for individuals without insurance.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a chronic condition that, if left untreated, can lead to serious heart problems, such as a stroke or heart attack. For those who are not covered by insurance, typical out-of-pocket costs for hypertension range between $740 and $1,200 or more per year, with an annual average cost of $454 for doctor's visits and $407 for prescription medication. For those covered by health insurance, out-of-pocket costs typically consist of doctor visit copays, prescription drug copays and coinsurance of 10%-50% or more.
4. Increased life span
Preventive care not only helps to extend years of life but can also help individuals live better throughout the years. Preventive services are effective in reducing death, disability and disease.
Healthy People 2020 reports that clinical preventive services to prevent cardiovascular disease alone could save tens of thousands of lives annually. According to the CDC, among people with diabetes, blood pressure management can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 33% to 50%. Improved cholesterol levels can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%.
The advantages of preventive care far outweigh receiving treatment once disease strikes. The time it takes for getting annual check-ups, regular screenings, immunizations and vaccines pales in comparison to literally adding years to your life.
Mom's Meals® can help
Nutrition is a controllable risk factor when it comes to disease. Mom’s Meals offers a variety of menus for people with chronic conditions as well as selections for maintaining general health. No matter what you choose, our programs deliver nutritious, high-quality food direct to your home.