All about health screenings…and how to get them for little or no cost

April 24, 2013

What are health screenings, and why do I need them?

Health screenings are medical tests that check your risk for certain diseases and conditions.  Getting screened is important—it’s often the first step a person can take toward better health and well-being.  From there, once you know your risks, you can take action by making healthy lifestyle changes that can help lower your risks for disease.

 

What are some types of health screenings?

There are many different types of health screenings available. Some are routine, such as those that test your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI), and blood glucose.

Then there are screenings that are more specific to you, and your doctor may recommend that you undergo these screenings based on your age, gender, family history, and other risk factors.  Examples of these screenings include tests for bone density, hearing or vision loss, sexually transmitted diseases, and screenings for various types of cancer, such as a mammogram (breast cancer), Pap test (cervical cancer), PSA test for some men over the age of 50 (prostate cancer), or colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test, or sigmoidoscopy (three of the many tests available that can help detect colorectal cancer).

Those are just some of the many examples of health screenings available. Undergoing health screenings is a good idea because it may help identify disease in its earliest—and most treatable—stages.

 

How do I know what types of health screenings are right for me?

Your age, gender, family history, and other factors will come into play when determining which screenings are appropriate for you.  Your doctor will know best, so always talk to your doctor to determine which screenings are right for you.  If you’re a Health Advocate member and don’t currently have a family doctor, call your Personal Health Advocate, who can locate an in-network physician whose hours and location are convenient for you.

The following resources may also be helpful in determining which screenings could be appropriate for you:

 

Where can I find free or low-cost health screenings?

It’s important to note that pharmacies, retailers, and employee health and wellness fairs only offer a limited amount of screenings. Again, your doctor will be your best resource for health screenings, or for giving you referrals to see specialists or other providers for any screenings that your doctor does not perform.

Preventive health screenings are an effective way to identify your risk for disease. For many people, getting screened is the first step to better health.  Once you understand your health risks, you can take steps to reduce your risk, such as exercising regularly, eating a healthier diet, and more. These healthy lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping you improve and maintain your health.

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Find low-cost or free dental services nationwide

January 21, 2011

In today’s economic climate, most people find it hard enough to afford keeping up with their basic medical care, let alone dental care.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Besides the obvious cosmetic benefits of taking care of your teeth, the American Heart Association says that keeping good dental hygiene could reduce your risk of heart disease.

Fortunately, the folks at WorlDental.org have put together an expansive database of free and low-cost dental services throughout the United States. The site features loads of information on clinics, fairs, and other places to get cheap dental care in Minnesota, Northern California, and Indiana; North Carolina, Michigan, and Maryland; Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hamphire; as well as New Jersey and virtually anywhere else in America.  The site is updated continuously, so if you don’t see a clinic or event in your area, check back soon.

Are you having trouble paying for dental care? Would WorlDental be helpful to you? Leave us a comment!


Use of medical services likely to fall in early 2011

January 19, 2011

Over the last few years, expensive insurance premiums and rising unemployment have made Americans reluctant to spend money on costly non-essential procedures and medications. This reluctance often has led to patients skipping out on appointments and cutting back on medications.

Despite this trend, Debra Sherman of Reuters reports that there actually was an increase in spending on medical services during the fourth quarter of 2010. This brief lapse in financial conservatism could have happened for a number of reasons, including increased confidence in the economy. However, it’s more likely that people were attempting to make as many doctor visits as possible after meeting their annual deductibles. With these deductibles having been reset on January 1, it is expected that people will go back to skipping doctor visits.

It’s important to know that saving money does not have to cost you and your family sound health. There are other ways of cutting costs where you can maintain good health without breaking the bank. All you need to do is strategize:

  • Be proactive. Don’t default to any single doctor. Planning ahead and shopping around will provide you with many options. A lack of options may subject you to expensive services – more options means more prices to compare. Search your area for medical services and be open to different providers – community hospitals typically offer the same services as academic medical centers, but at a cheaper price.
  • Like we discussed last week, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about a discount. It never hurts to ask.
  • Keep a journal to keep track of all of the services you have received. When you receive your bill, match up records to make sure there are no errors.
  • Make sure to stay on top of your medical bills – this means being clear on what your insurer will and will not cover, addressing billing errors immediately, and writing everything down – if there is a dispute, it will support your argument to know who at your insurance company you spoke with and what it is you discussed.

Have you avoided care to save money? Tell us your story in the comments!