The role individuals play in their own health care became more prominent in 2020. As a global pandemic forced people from all walks of life to prioritize their personal health each time they left their homes, many individuals sought ways to take a more active role in their health care.
Proactive health care has long been touted by medical professionals, though many people still don’t take such recommendations to heart. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that as much as 75 percent of health care spending in the United States is reactive in nature, meaning that money is going toward treating conditions and diseases rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place.
Taking an active role in your own health care is easier than people may think. And the benefits of such a proactive approach are numerous, including a reduced risk for various diseases.
Schedule annual physicals. Annual physicals are one of the simplest and most effective ways for individuals to take active roles in their personal health. Many health insurance plans cover annual physical exams at no cost to policy holders, and these examinations can uncover issues even when individuals are not feeling any symptoms. Annual physicals also provide great opportunities for individuals to discuss diet and healthy lifestyle choices with their physicians in relaxed settings.
Learn about the preventive services that are right for you. Individuals should speak with their physicians about which services are recommended for individuals in their situations. Screening guidelines are often age-based, but they also take personal history and family history into account. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends all adults between the ages of 50 and 75 be screened for colorectal cancer, but the frequency of those screenings will depend on each individual’s personal risk and which screening test they choose.
Embrace physical activity. The DHHS notes that regular physical activity increases a person’s chances of living a longer, healthier life. In addition, the CDC says regular physical activity reduces a person’s risk for chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, various types of cancer, and even mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Access to fitness facilities may be limited or unavailable during the pandemic, but that should not deter people from exercising regularly. Walking, jogging, hiking, and cycling are great forms of cardiovascular exercise that have been linked to a host of health benefits.
A proactive approach to personal health is simple and effective, potentially helping people reduce their risk for a variety of diseases and conditions.