Dr. Melissa Kizilos
Health and medical screenings, or tests that look for signs of disease before symptoms appear, are essential for maintaining good health. These regular screenings improve health outcomes drastically among the general population. Preventive screenings help catch and treat illness earlier when chances for recovery are highest.
Some of these preventable conditions, or those that can be minimized with early detection, are risk factors for longer-term complex diseases. High blood pressure, for example, is a risk factor for heart disease but can be identified earlier with regular screenings.
By prioritizing your health and your family’s health, we are taking good care of our members and working to improve health outcomes in our communities.
Improving Health Outcomes in Arkansas
Health outcomes reflect a community’s physical and mental well-being through measures that represent not only the length of life but also the quality of life. They are influenced by a variety of factors, including the quality of medical care, the availability of well-paying jobs, affordable housing, and many others. Local, state and federal programs and policies all impact these health factors. We can determine which health improvement programs are working and how to improve length and quality of life by studying the data related to health outcomes.
While some Arkansas data indicates progress across several health outcomes, such as higher rates of mental health treatment in Arkansas, there is still much room for growth. In the Commonwealth Fund’s recently released 2022 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, Arkansas ranked 44th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is a staggering statistic, and two measures stood out as causes when looking at the study. Preventable hospitalizations of people ages 18-64 and premature deaths from preventable diseases proved to be two reasons for unfavorable results.
We must vow to place a greater emphasis on regular screenings to protect the health of our citizens. It can be easy to put off health screenings because we believe they are unnecessary or fall prey to the myth that they are too expensive. We must dispel these misconceptions to improve the health of our communities. We can help Arkansans live longer, healthier lives.
Health Insurance Covers Most Recommended Screenings
Most routine screenings are covered by insurance plans, making them more affordable and accessible. Your employee benefits site will include an overview of screening coverage.
For most adults, depending on age, doctors will recommend a screening schedule that includes a thorough scope of care. You should schedule and attend these appointments regularly.
This care will include things such as:
- regular physical exams
- skin checks
- cholesterol and blood pressure screening
- eye exams
- heart health screenings
- screening for obesity
. Other types of helpful screenings can include:
- Depression screening
- Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults starting at age 35 who are overweight or obese. If risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of diabetes are present, start screening earlier.
- Alcohol misuse screening
- Tobacco use screening, education, and cessation interventions for tobacco users
- Sexually transmitted infection screening for at-risk individuals.
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults 45 to 75 at average risk. Review risk factors with your provider for personalized recommendation.
- Lung cancer screening for adults 50 to 80 at high risk for lung cancer from smoking or having smoked in the past 15 years
- Breast cancer screening for women starting at age 50. If you’re age 40 to 49, or have a family history of breast cancer, you can talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how you should get them.
- Tuberculosis screening for certain at-risk individuals.
Screenings Save Lives
In many cases, health screenings can help lower cancer-related illnesses and deaths. The number of cervical and colorectal cancer cases has decreased by roughly 55% and 45%, respectively, over the past few decades, and the death rate has fallen even further. These changes have primarily been brought on by routine screening, proving that they can help sustain and save the lives of those who prioritize them. It is up to us to commit to scheduling and attending regular screenings. By encouraging your family and friends to schedule regular screenings themselves, we can help save and improve lives.
Are you a member looking to schedule preventive screenings? You can visit our care navigator to find care.