With any problem in life, it’s always better to deal with the issue before it happens, rather than trying to fix it once it’s become a major concern. This is especially true with health care issues, so many companies are implementing preventive health care measures.
The goal of preventive health care is to stop the onset of chronic disease through early detection and management of a disease or condition. Regular physical exams and health screening tests are an important part of preventive health care. Prevention is a process of making small regular decisions and taking positive action on health, diet, exercise and lifestyle.
These actions could include anything from a routine physical to mammograms, pap tests, prostate exams, colon cancer screenings, bone density tests, electrocardiograms (EKG) and chest x-rays, says Nancy Pokorny, vice president of business development at the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE).
Smart Business spoke with Pokorny about preventive health care and how it can change the health culture at your company.
Will these preventive care services raise the cost of my health insurance?
It is commonly believed that preventive care services reduce the cost of health insurance in the long term. For example, if someone has high blood pressure, he or she is at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. If his or her high blood pressure is monitored and controlled by medications and/or lifestyle changes, then the risk of heart disease and stroke is reduced and so is the likelihood of an expensive emergency room visit.
Do worksite health fairs have an impact in early detection?
Many people don’t visit their doctor unless they’re ill. In fact, new results from a survey released by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) indicate men continue to fall short when it comes to managing their personal health. The survey found:
- Fifty-five percent of all men have not
seen their primary care physician for a physical exam within the past year.
- Forty-two percent of men have been diagnosed with at least one of the following
chronic conditions: high blood pressure (28
percent), heart disease (8 percent), arthritis
(13 percent), cancer (8 percent) or diabetes
- Eighteen percent of men 55 years and
older have never received the recommended
screening for colon cancer.
- Twenty-nine percent of men say they
wait ‘as long as possible’ before seeking help
when they feel sick, are in pain or are concerned about their health.
- Seventy-nine percent of men describe
themselves as in ‘excellent,’ ‘very good’ or
Bringing health screenings to the work-place can impact employee health in many ways. Employees can learn what their ‘numbers’ are related to cholesterol and glucose levels, blood pressure, bone density and body mass index so that they can become more aware of their risks for chronic disease.
Worksite screenings don’t take the place of a physical exam with your doctor, but these screenings do help employees identify health concerns to discuss with their physician. And worksite screenings are convenient, making it more likely that employees will participate.
What else should be done?
Have a dialogue with your doctor about your personal health. Ask questions and get informed. Know what your lab numbers mean and what the norms are for your age and gender. Follow these preventive actions:
- Daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks and
stroke in men over 40 and women over 50
- Childhood immunizations for diphtheria,
tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps,
rubella, polio, hepatitis B, etc.
- Tobacco-use screening and counseling
- Routine colorectal-cancer screening for
adults 50 and older
- Hypertension screening via routine
- Annual flu shots for adults 50 and older
- Immunization of adults 65 and older
against bacteria that cause pneumonia and
- Screening and counseling of problem
drinkers by their physicians
- Vision screening for adults 65 and older
- Cervical cancer screening for sexually
active women and women over 21
- Cholesterol screening for men 35 and
older and women 45 and older
- Routine breast-cancer screening for
women 40 and older
- Obesity screening and high-intensity diet
and exercise counseling for the obese
- Depression screening for adults
- Hearing-impairment screening for adults
65 and over
Be concerned about health risks, but don’t panic. Work with your doctor to define a healthy lifestyle that’s right for you, and then live it. Eat the right foods. Find a physical activity that is appropriate for you. Get regular checkups and pay attention to your environment. Such measures can reduce your risk factors and enrich your life.
NANCY POKORNY is the vice president of business development at the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), one of Ohio’s largest small business support organizations. Reach her at email@example.com or (216) 592-2309. Composed of more than 17,000 members, COSE strives to help small businesses grow and maintain their independence. COSE has a long history of fighting for the rights of all small business owners, whether it’s through group purchasing programs for health care powered by Medical Mutual of Ohio, workers’ compensation or energy, advocating for specific changes in legislation or regulation, or providing a forum and resource for small businesses to connect with and learn from one another.