The Importance of Health Screenings

Health Screenings

As adults, we often get caught up in taking care of all sorts of areas and aspects of our lives: kids, elderly parents, jobs, money, you name it! But, in order to continue taking care of all of these things, we must take care of ourselves first. We may not always be in great health, but regular health screenings and other “preventative maintenance” exams and tests can help find problems early, or even before they start!

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. But, they also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. Your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e. what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke), and other important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare.

A good start is to talk with your regular health care provider or Primary Care Physician (PCP). If you do not have one, please call us as soon as possible.  We will have good suggestions on where to start, depending on your current health, age, past medical history, etc. For example, if you are a middle-aged woman, it is normal protocol to have regular mammograms. Other important exams, screenings, and vaccinations include cholesterol tests, colorectal cancer screenings, prostate cancer screening, high blood pressure checks, skin cancer checks, and oral health visits.

One problem is that we don’t always take advantage of all the services available to us as Americans. Nationally, we use preventive services at only about half the recommended rate. Cost-sharing such as deductibles, co-insurance, or copayments also reduce the likelihood that preventive services will be used. One study found that the rate of women getting a mammogram went up as much as 9% when cost-sharing was removed.

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75% of the nation’s health spending. These chronic diseases can be largely preventable through close partnership with your healthcare team, and they often can be detected through appropriate screenings, when treatment works best.

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and receiving preventive services such as cancer screenings, preventive visits, and vaccinations are just a few examples of ways people can stay healthy. The right preventive care at every stage of life helps all Americans stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, keep diseases they already have from becoming worse or debilitating, lead productive lives, and reduce overall healthcare costs.

And yet, despite the benefits of many preventive health services, too many Americans go without needed preventive care, often because of financial barriers. Even families with insurance may be deterred by copayments and deductibles from getting cancer screenings, immunizations for their children and themselves that they need to keep their families healthy.

We all end up at risk in some way or another when we are deterred from healthcare screenings and preventative services. Opportunities for prevention impact all Americans, regardless of age, income, or perceived health status. Each year, potentially preventable chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, cancer, diabetes) are responsible for millions of premature deaths among Americans. The five leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, and unintentional injuries. Because health problems impact productivity, health problems are a major drain on the economy, resulting in 69 million workers reporting missed days due to illness each year. This loss of productivity reduces economic output by $260 billion per year.

Although most Americans underuse preventive services, individuals experiencing social, economic, or environmental disadvantages are even less likely to use these services. Examples of obstacles include lack of access to quality and affordable health care, lack of access to healthy food choices, unsafe environments, and a lack of educational and employment opportunities.

Preventing disease is key to improving America’s health and keeping rising health costs under control. When we invest in prevention, the benefits are broadly shared. Children grow up in communities, homes, and families that nurture their healthy development, and adults are productive and healthy, both inside and outside the workplace. Businesses benefit because a healthier workforce reduces long-term health care costs and increases stability and productivity. Furthermore, communities that offer a healthy, productive, stable workforce can be more attractive places for families to live and for businesses to locate.

So, there is work to be done as consumers, but the benefits we will reap are great. Eliminating cost-sharing for certain preventive services increases the likelihood that preventive services will be used. Preventing disease before it starts is critical to helping people live longer, healthier lives and keeping health care costs down. Preventive services can also help those with early stages of disease keep from getting sicker.

Counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating better, treating depression, and reducing alcohol and drug use can improve health and reduce costs by preventing illness. Receiving routine vaccinations in accordance with your doctor’s recommendations can help prevent diseases such as measles, chicken pox, or meningitis, as well as flu and certain kinds of pneumonia.

Encouraging others is always important when it comes to our healthcare, especially before there are any major problems or concerns. You may want to start a campaign in your community (i.e. a faith-based setting, workplace, school, or civic group) to encourage others to make an appointment for a check-up or health screening on National Women’s Check-Up Day (the day after Mother’s Day each year), National Men’s Health Week (the week before Father’s Day each year), their birthday, or any day of the year!

If you have questions, please give us a call at 832-915-2454 or schedule your appointment using our online scheduler.


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