Prevention can reduce risk of chronic disease

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act which mandates health insurance coverage is to emphasize prevention. According to the American Public Health Association in 2013, there are three main goals of the Affordable Health Care Act: expand health insurance coverage, shift the focus of the health care delivery system from treatment to prevention and reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of health care.

So what is prevention all about? Basically, prevention concentrates on taking steps to reduce the rate of preventable disease. Prevention focuses on behavior and environmental factors that can lead to, or worsen, chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The reason for the emphasis on prevention in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that chronic disease is the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86 percent of our nation’s health care costs.

While there are other risk factors for chronic disease, there are three main risk factors for most chronic disease: unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

The Affordable Care Act makes preventive care affordable and accessible by requiring new plans and issuers of health plans to cover certain recommended preventive services without charging a deductible, copayment, co-insurance or other cost sharing. For example, these services might include blood pressure screening, diabetes and cholesterol tests, cancer screenings, routine vaccinations, pre-natal care and regular wellness visits for infants and children.

Find out what your health insurer provides to you for free preventative services. Ask about stipulations such as you must be seen at a clinic in your plan’s network. Do this before you go in for to see your doctor. If you aren’t sure what about what free preventative services are available from your insurer, contact your insurance provider. A fact sheet about essential health benefits is available from Michigan State University Extension at MiMoneyHealth.org.

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