We have all heard the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but how important is preventive care really? And how should you access it to take the best care of your health?
What is Prevention?
Prevention, or preventive care, is healthcare that keeps you healthy by helping prevent illnesses instead of treating existing conditions. For example, going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned so that you don’t later have to treat a cavity. Preventive care may also look like any of the following health services:
- Wellness visits and annual physicals with your doctor
- Well child visits
- Preventive mammograms and colonoscopies
- Preventive labs and bloodwork
- Prenatal checkups during pregnancy
- Vision checkups
There are three types of prevention categorized by the Centers for Disease Control:
- Primary Prevention means “intervening before health effects occur”. This includes measures like vaccinations, promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle, and avoiding high-risk behaviors such as tobacco use. These measures prevent a disease from ever manifesting.
- Secondary Prevention includes practices like screening mammograms and colonoscopies that help identify diseases before symptoms begin. Secondary prevention tries to catch disease at an early stage and start treatment quickly, before the disease can progress to a stage that needs more drastic treatment.
- Tertiary Prevention manages diseases after they are diagnosed to slow or stop their progression. Tertiary prevention hopes to avoid further complications from an established disease, especially in long-term or chronic conditions.
What is Treatment?
Treatment, unlike prevention, happens after an injury or illness has occurred—like getting a filling or a root canal after a cavity is already present. If you are sick and go to the hospital or emergency room, the care you receive would be treatment. Like our root canal example, treatment is often far more painful and expensive than preventive care.
What Are the Benefits of Prevention?
A big benefit of preventive care is being able to catch a disease early, which may save you money in the long run by helping you avoid costly medical bills. Though preventive care may save you money, the American Academy of Family Physicians, doesn’t think that should be our primary concern. Indeed, the primary benefit of preventive care is reducing the number of preventable deaths and improving overall quality of life.
Of the CDC’s list of leading causes of death in the US, many are related to preventable health conditions.
Take for example, the number one cause of death: heart disease. Through routine care and healthy living habits, many conditions related to heart disease are either manageable or entirely preventable. Of course, not all instances of heart disease-related deaths are preventable. But, routine preventive care can still dramatically impact public health and bring down mortality rates.
Zion Health and Prevention
Many people turn to healthcare once they have a health issue. At Zion HealthShare, we encourage our members to take preventive steps to stop illness before it starts. All our members have access to an annual provider visit to ensure they visit the doctor at least once a year. We also share costs associated with routine immunizations for children up to age 18, and all members have unlimited access to a physician 24/7 through Teladoc™. But more than that, one of our primary values is to actively work on maintaining our health by the way we live our lives each day. Healthy living is the best preventive medicine.
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