Prioritizing preventive care – before chronic becomes critical
Recovering from the first global health crisis in a century, health and wellness is now more important than ever. With cold and flu season in full swing, it’s imperative individuals – especially older adults – invest in preventive care measures, such as regular wellness visits and vaccinations.
Regular preventive care can lead to early detection of chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. It also reduces medical expenses, lowering your out-of-pocket costs. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases explains that older adults are at higher risk of severe flu and flu-related complications, including pneumonia and hospitalization. Flu also increases the risk of heart attack by three to five times and stroke by two to three times in the first two weeks of infection for those 65 and older. Preventive care is the first line of defense against these potentially serious complications.
The first step is making an appointment with a primary care physician. With many plans, you get the most value when using the insurers’ network of health care providers. For example, when Priority Health members choose a doctor in our network, which includes nine out of 10 primary care providers in Michigan, they don’t need a referral and save money.
Some of the preventive tests, screenings, vaccinations and exams that Original Medicare covers at no cost to you include:
- Annual Wellness Visit
- Breast, cervical, vaginal, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer screenings
- Cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction visit
- Depression screening
- Diabetes screening and Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program
- HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) screening and counseling
- Immunizations (flu, pneumococcal, and hepatitis B)
- Medical nutrition therapy and obesity screening and therapy to promote sustained weight loss
Preventive care also starts at home, with proper oral health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all adults aged 65 years or older have had a cavity, and one in five have untreated tooth decay. Oral health issues like cavities and untreated tooth decay could lead to serious periodontal disease and an increased risk of heart disease.
Many Medicare Advantage plans, including plans from Priority Health, offer enhanced dental and/or vision coverage with copays as low as $0 for routine care such as cleanings, exams and X-rays.
Medicare can be confusing. What kind of plan is right for me? What’s the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage? Plan providers are only a phone call away and can help you understand your best Medicare options so you can make a smart choice for your health care coverage.
About the expert
Tami Hibbitts is vice president of senior markets for Priority Health, overseeing the company’s Medicare program, including strategic direction, product and market development, sales, operations and quality and risk adjustment.