If going to a doctor when you feel fine sounds counter-intuitive, this article is for you. It not only answers the question, “What is preventive health care?” but also demonstrates how it differs from other types of medical care and why engaging in preventive care is always the right choice when it comes to protecting both your health and your wallet.
What is Preventive Care and What Services Does It Include?
Preventive health care is all about taking a proactive approach to good health by seeking medical services before you actually need them. The Affordable Care Act website offers guidance, stating that preventive care is the “routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems.”
Under this definition, preventive services have two main functions — to protect you and those around you from disease and to identify health problems early when they are easier to treat. Doing so can provide better outcomes for patients. Immunizations and routine screening tests are both types of preventive care services. Some specific preventive care examples include:
- Seeing your Primary Care Physician (PCP) for an annual checkup. Your PCP is your first line of defense when it comes to healthcare. Usually, the checkup will include a blood pressure check, routine blood and lab work, skin cancer screenings, and sexual health screenings. Your PCP will also address issues like managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and other lifestyle issues that affect your health.
- Getting an annual flu shot. This once-a-year preventive shot helps protect you by reducing the odds that you will become severely ill should you come in contact with certain strains of the flu virus.
- Receiving recommended routine vaccinations. Many routine preventive vaccinations — including those for measles, mumps, polio, and rubella — and corresponding boosters are administered in childhood. Others — like the shingles vaccination — are recommended for all adults.
- Getting a colonoscopy. These colorectal cancer screenings are typically recommended starting around age 50 and after that, every 10 years or as often as your physician deems appropriate.
- Getting regular mammograms. Women at high risk for breast cancer or who have reached age 40 are encouraged to have a regular mammogram screening.
What is Preventive Care vs. Diagnostic Care?
Now that you know the answer to “what is considered preventive care?” let’s compare preventive care with diagnostic care.
Where preventive care focuses on the early detection of health risks and problems, diagnostic medical care is concerned with diagnosing and treating a new set of symptoms, looking further into a problem that may have been uncovered during screening, or addressing an existing condition.
For example, if you undergo a mammogram after noticing a lump in your breast, that mammogram is considered a diagnostic test. This can be contrasted with a routine mammogram — something not precipitated by a particular concern — that you undertake as part of your routine preventive medical care.
What are the Benefits of Preventive Care Services?
Preventive health care services — starting with seeing your PCP for an annual checkup and referral for lab work and screenings — increase the chances that any health issues will be detected before they become serious. Other benefits of preventive care are:
- Increase life expectancy. The earlier severe diseases like cancer and diabetes are discovered, the greater the chance for treatment that can produce favorable outcomes.
- Avoid illness. Preventive care — like vaccinations — can prevent you from getting sick.
- Adopt healthier habits. Your PCP will guide you toward healthier lifestyle habits to help prevent problems in the future.
- Save money. By encouraging you to make healthy lifestyle choices, preventative care reduces the odds that you will incur costly medical bills in the future.
Is Preventive Care Expensive?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all health insurance must cover preventive health care services with no out-of-pocket costs for the patient. So, for most people, that annual checkup, routine labs, and certain screenings recommended by your physician are covered by insurance at no cost to you.
How Often Do You Need Preventive Care?
Most people do well with an annual visit to their PCP, followed by getting all of the screening tests and exams recommended by their doctor on the appropriate timeline. Some people — such as those with a family history of disease or who need to address issues like alcohol use or smoking cessation — will need to see their doctor more often. How often you require preventive and even diagnostic care is unique for every individual and is something to discuss with your PCP.
We Believe Prevention is the Best Medicine at Eden Health
At Eden Health, we believe in taking care of the whole person — both mental and physical — with a primary care clinician serving as the focal point of care. Since the cornerstone of good health is preventive care, we make it easy for all our patients to seek preventive health by offering access to the best doctors and care anywhere, anytime, via our mobile app. From employee health screenings to corporate wellness programs, we keep the health of your workforce at the center of all we do. We even provide workplace on-site popups, so every employee has easy access to the care they need.
Contact us or request a demo today for more information on our healthcare solutions for employers and to discover how our collaborative approach to healthcare can help your organization.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your Care Team or other healthcare provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.