Investing in a healthy future might not be as expensive as you think. Several preventive care services are now available free of charge. Although plans that existed before March 2010 without making significant changes to their benefits and costs can ask you to share the cost, some of these plans are offering free preventive services, and the Affordable Care Act stipulates that all other health plans should not charge for preventive care services including the following:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Test for Men
This is an ultrasound screening test that checks for swelling in the main artery in the abdomen, which is called the aorta. Such a swelling or aneurysm could prove fatal if it bursts. This only applies for men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked.
- Alcohol Misuse Screening Test and Counseling
This test takes place at your annual physical exam, detecting possible drinking problems through a series of questions. Free, short-term behavioral counseling is available to help you reduce or stop your alcohol consumption.
- Blood Pressure Test
High blood pressure is an indicator for heart disease and strokes, so you should take this test every two years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80, and annually if your blood pressure is higher than 120/80.
- Cholesterol Test
Elevated cholesterol levels in your blood can indicate a higher risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke. This test involves a blood test, preferably after fasting for about 12 hours. You only need to take this test every five years, although you will be monitored more often if your cholesterol is high.
- Colorectal Cancer Test
Cancers of the colon and rectum can be detected in various ways. The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) looks for blood in your stool, whereas colonoscopies and other tests check for abnormal growths. Colonoscopies may be recommended every decade between the ages of 50 and 75. You may need more frequent tests if you have a family history or an elevated risk for other reasons.
- Depression Screening Test
This may be conducted at your annual physical exam and involves a series of questions that seek to identify signs of depression.
- Diabetes (Type 2) Test
Overweight people (BMI in excess of 25) with high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes and those age 45 or older should undergo a blood test for Type 2 diabetes at their annual physical exam.
- HIV Test
You should be tested for HIV at least once between the ages of 15 and 65 and once every 12 months for high-risk candidates (every 3 to 6 months for very high risk). Counseling may be available before and after the test to inform you about HIV and how to prevent it.
- Immunization Vaccines
You can be immunized against diseases including hepatitis A and B; measles, mumps, and rubella; shingles; tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, depending on your risk
You can get a flu vaccination every year.
- Nutrition Counseling
You can seek advice on eating healthily to reduce your chances of experiencing diet-related problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes (type 2), and bone loss. Counseling is by a primary care doctor or by a specialist such as a nutritionist or dietitian.
- Obesity Screening Test and Counseling
This test is available at your annual physical exam and assesses your body mass index (BMI) by weighing you and determining whether your height is proportionate to your height. If your BMI is measured at 30 or higher, you will receive free diet counseling. Recommended counselling is between 12 and 26 sessions of intensive behavior interventions, which may involve phone counseling, advice from a health coach, group sessions, or referrals to Weight Watchers.
- Preventive Aspirin
For men between 45 and 79 and women between 55 and 79, it is worthwhile asking your doctor at your annual physical about the benefits of taking daily aspirin to prevent stroke and heart disease.
- Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention Counseling
Adults at risk can learn how to avoid STDs and whether they should be tested for them. Ask at your physical exam.
- Syphilis Test
Pregnant women are screened for this disease at their first prenatal exam, and high risk individuals can receive a blood test at their annual physical exam.
- Tobacco Use Screening Test
A series of questions asked at your annual physical exam can assess how your tobacco use raises your risk of contracting various diseases. Tobacco users at elevated risk receive free counseling to help them stop smoking. There are separate free services for women and children.
Whichever preventive tests apply to you, remember you can book your appointment with your primary care doctor using Comiere’s convenient system. (link as appropriate)
To determine your eligibility for these tests, check your insurance policy, and remember that your age, gender, and health status can influence the level of coverage.