Why Get Preventive Care

What Is Preventive Care?

When it comes to injury and illness, it's much easier to prevent a problem than it is to treat it. That's why many medical providers stress the importance of getting preventive care. Even if you don't feel sick, seeing your doctor regularly is a good idea.

In the U.S., most health insurance plans provide full coverage for preventive care, at no out-of-pocket cost to the insured1. This means that if you get preventive care services from a provider who's in your insurance network, you won't have to pay a co-pay or deductible for those services.

Preventive care services vary for adults and children and some are designed for adults at particular stages of life, such as women of child-bearing age. To learn more about what preventive care services are available and when to see a provider for care, keep reading.

What Counts as Preventive Care?

Preventive care is any type of medical service that helps a patient maintain their health and well-being. Preventive services include treatments or screenings you receive while you're healthy. The goal of the services or treatments is either to detect an issue or reduce the chance of it happening.

Immunizations are an example of preventive care. From the age of birth through 18 years, it's recommended that children receive immunizations on a set schedule. Getting the right shots at the right time reduces a child's risk of developing diseases such as chickenpox, measles, whooping cough, or polio2.

Adults should also receive immunizations, although the shots they receive are likely to be different from those given to kids. For example, every adult should get a flu shot annually3. Getting the flu vaccine protects you and those around you from the virus. Other immunizations for adults include Tdap, shingles and pneumonia.

An annual wellness visit or physical exam is another example of preventive care. During your annual check-up, your physician will make sure you or your child is up-to-date on immunizations. They'll also perform or order screening tests as appropriate. For example, during the visit, your provider might check your blood pressure, screen you for depression, and assess you for certain infectious diseases.

Some preventive care services are specially for female patients. They include birth control, PAP smears and bone density screenings.

What Are the Benefits of Preventive Care?

The goal of preventive care is to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Services such as immunizations significantly reduce your risk of developing certain illnesses while regular screenings let you and your provider stay on top of a potential issue.

For example, if you start screening for diabetes at the recommended age, and an initial test reveals that your blood sugar is in the pre-diabetes range, you can work with your doctor to make lifestyle changes to lower your blood sugar and keep it from progressing to diabetes.

Preventive care also helps to keep your medical costs down. When you see an in-network provider for preventive care, you don't have to pay out-of-pocket. Keeping illnesses from happening or detecting health problems when it's still possible to reverse them through lifestyle adjustments can mean you don't have to pay for medications or treatments in the future.

Getting preventive care can also help you achieve certain health goals. For example, if you know that you'd like to have children one day, you can work with your family physician to ensure you get the appropriate care and screenings needed.

When Should You Receive Preventive Care?

When you should see your provider for preventive care depends in large part on your age. Children should see their doctors seven times between the ages of one and four4. Older kids can go less frequently, about once a year.

Adults should schedule a wellness visit or check-up with their physician annually.

When you might need certain immunizations and screenings varies, too, based on your risk factors and age. For example, adults should get a flu shot every year but only need to get the Tdap shot once.

If it's been a while seen you've seen a physician for any sort of care, it's not too late. Schedule a wellness visit with a doctor today to get caught up on your screenings and immunizations and to talk to them about any wellness concerns or goals you have.

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1. Preventive Healthcare Services, Healthcare.gov, https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/preventive-care-benefits/

2. Diseases and the Vaccines that Prevent Them, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/index.html

3. Get Shots to Protect Your Health, My Health Finder, https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/shots-vaccines/get-shots-protect-your-health-adults-ages-19-49

4. Make the Most of Your Child's Visit to the Doctor, My Health Finder, https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/make-most-your-childs-visit-doctor-ages-1-4

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