YOUR HEALTH: TAKE CHARGE!
PREVENTIVE SERVICES AND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
By: Ho Luong Tran, M.D., M.P.H.
Many Americans are not getting the preventive health care they need to avoid or delay the onset of disease, reduce health care costs, and lead healthier lives. Americans use preventive services at about half the recommended rate, most often because of cost. Death from cancer or from complications due to diabetes or heart disease - accounting for 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year and for 75% of the nation's health spending - often can be prevented. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders experience additional barriers to preventive care, with lower rates of screening and, subsequently, poorer health outcomes.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you may be eligible for some important preventive services through your insurance at no additional cost to you. According to a new regulation released by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Labor, if a patient has enrolled in a new plan on or after September 23, 2010, that plan must cover recommended preventive services without charging you a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. Some of the critical preventive services that may be available to you include blood pressure and cancer screenings, well-baby and well-child visits, counseling, and vaccinations.
Some Important Details to Consider
- Consult with your physician about which covered preventive services are recommended for you.
You can also look up appropriate preventive services through the online tool from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Fill in the basic information (it does not ask you for any identifying information) and you will receive recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force on services you should consider.
- Contact your insurer or plan provider if you have questions about whether the new provisions apply to your plan.
- Ask your doctor how they bill for preventive services. Some health plans may require you to pay some costs of your doctor visit depending on whether your doctor bills the visit and preventive services separately.
If you've enrolled in a health insurance plan or insurance policy beginning on or after September 23, 2010, the following are just some of the preventive services that MUST be covered without an out-of-pocket copayment or co-insurance (when provided by an in-network provider):
Covered Preventive Services: Click here for a complete list of services covered.
- Blood pressure screening for all adults
- Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults over 50
- Depression screening
- Type 2 Diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure
- Breast Cancer Mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40
- Routine anemia screening for pregnant women
- Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
For more information on the ACA provisions that could impact your access to preventive health services go to: healthcare.gov/law/provisions/preventive/index.html
HEALTHY KIDS, HEALTHY FAMILY, HEALTHY YOU!
By: Nanci Yuan, M.D.
Summer is in full swing and there is no better season to be more active with your kids. But remember that being healthy involves both an active lifestyle, and a good diet, too.
Over the last few decades, the prevalence of children who are obese has doubled, and the prevalence of adolescents who are obese has tripled. Children who have an excess percentage of body weight due to fat are at risk for many health problems. Obesity is measured by the body mass index (BMI), which uses your child's height and weight and adjusts it to their age and sex. Children and adolescents who are between the 85-95th percentile are considered overweight and those with a BMI greater than the 95th percentile are considered obese. Ask your child's pediatrician to assess BMI beginning at the age of two.
Overweight or obese children are at risk for health problems ranging from asthma, sleep apnea, skin infections, and joint pain, to less visible health problems like high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes. Children who are overweight or obese may also have poor emotional and social health, have low self esteem, negative body image, depression, or experience discrimination or bullying from their peers.
Early identification and prevention of childhood obesity is important for attaining and maintaining healthy weight and lifestyle.
Keep in mind these tips and guidelines for healthy eating.
- Keep your kids hydrated with water and limit their intake of juice and high sugar drinks.
- Swap out refined grains like white rice, pasta, or bread with whole grain options.
- Use limited amounts of oils that are low in saturated fat like vegetable or olive oils instead of using butter, shortening, or other animal fats.
- Incorporate nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products instead of the full fat options.
- Use lean proteins like chicken, turkey, pork, or lean cuts of beef, or consider fish or non-meat choices like tofu or beans.
- Include vegetables and fruits in your childrens’ diets every day. Try to incorporate different colorful vegetables into their diets.
- Restrict sugary foods.
- Reduce salt.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always easiest with plenty of support, so help your kids by having more healthy food options in the house and engage in sports and activities as a family. Making these choices together will lead to healthier kids and a healthier you!