Preventative VS. Reactive Health Care
You show up at the emergency room with a broken leg from a biking accident, you visit your doctor because you can’t get off the couch and are running a high fever, or you are anxious about a rash that has spread across your chest so you take a trip to an urgent care clinic. These are all examples of reactive care. Reactive care is treating symptoms or injuries that are already present within your body.
On the other hand, preventative health care can be simple everyday actions you take that become part of your normal routine to keep you strong and healthy. With the state of the world floundering with the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the rising costs of health insurance, one would think many would seek preventative care.
This may seem like a simple train of thought, but only 8% of U.S. adults receive all of the appropriate preventative services that are available to them1. This seems like an extraordinarily low number especially since the COVID-19 pandemic is still claiming lives every day.
Considering that the United States spends more money on health care than most developed countries, one would think U.S. citizens would be taking advantage of free services offered to them to prevent future illness.
So you might be thinking to yourself: ”Hold-on there Vitajoy-article-writing-person, what are some methods of preventative health care?” Well, here are a few examples:
- Get routine lab work
- Implement a regiment of exercise
- Take vitamins & supplements
- Practice healthy eating habits
- Add nutraceuticals and “super foods” to your diet (blueberries, spinach, or black beans)
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
- Get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)
- Screen for Cancer
- Get your annual physical with your primary care physician
- Get the flu shot and other necessary vaccinations
These may seem like simple tasks to some, but the majority of people fall short of checking off most tasks on this list. Typically, when we feel healthy, we are usually feel we are “too busy” (watching Netflix) to set a schedule of routine exercise, whip up a smoothie or prepare a salad. Instead, we slide through a Burger King drive-thru (fill in your fast-food, guilty pleasure here) and move sluggishly through our day.
Let’s face it, we can all be lazy at times, certainly when it comes to things that we deem as not an immediate necessity or “a fire to put out.” Changing the way we take care of our health and instilling preventative health care in our children is vitally important. It will have a long-lasting effect on how we deal with the next inevitable pandemic or other health crisis that may unfortunately come along.
One hundred years ago our world was devastated by the Spanish Flu, where it is estimated we lost between 50-100 million human lives, making it the second deadliest pandemic in human history, beat out only by the bubonic plague during 1346-1353 (I bet they wished they had vaccinations!)2. History has a way of repeating itself. Hope springs from our ability to learn from it.
Varied Access to Health Care
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same knowledge and access to health care that we would like to believe. These are deterrents that prevent people from receiving the same type of preventative care:
- Social and Community values
- Quality of care3
If you don’t know about The Affordable Care Act4 and all that it provides, (healthcare for little to no cost), you are most likely not going to be participating in preventative health care.
The more we come together as a community and pass on our knowledge to those around us, the more likely it is to spread to those who vitally need these health care services the most. Word-of-mouth (or by keyboard), especially in the age of social media, can be a very powerful force. Why be an internet troll, when you could be a vessel of health care knowledge (we know optimism can be a little nauseating at times).
Taking the extra few minutes to set up your annual physical or routine lab work could save you money and most importantly health risks down the road. This is a part of your life where you want to stray from procrastination and as Nike says: “Just do it.”
- Preventive care falls short, https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/practices/preventive-care-falls-short-8.
- History of 1918 Flu Pandemic, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm.
- Social Determinants of Health, https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health.
- Affordable Care Act 2022, https://obamacare-rates.com/affordable-care-act.