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Now that life is beginning to look more like it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, people are getting out and about, going on vacation, visiting friends and family, and dining at restaurants.
As individuals get comfortable resuming pre-pandemic activities, it’s also a good time to remind employees about their preventive healthcare benefits. It’s no secret that Covid-19 disrupted life as we knew it, and many people had concerns about seeing a doctor for routine care during the pandemic. In fact, preventive healthcare usage by covered employees declined by nearly 70% in 2020. This included screenings for chronic health conditions, such as colonoscopies and mammograms.
However, health services are becoming more widely available as people get vaccinated and things open up again. So there’s no better time to encourage employees to get back in the habit of using their preventive care benefits.
The Importance of Preventive Care
Preventive care plays an important role in your employees’ overall health and well-being. For starters, it can help them delay — or even avoid — the onset of chronic conditions that can impact their ability to live a full, healthy life. On its own, that’s reason enough to encourage employees to embrace preventive care.
Here’s another reason: Preventive care can result in major savings for your health plan by helping employees avoid costly medical services, medications and surgeries. Like most people, your employees may have put off preventive care during the pandemic. However, preventive care can help doctors detect the early warning signs of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions.
Getting timely preventive care is critical to detect potential health issues before they become serious and potentially expensive to treat. Putting off this care, even for a year, means your employees may have missed out on screenings that are vital to early detection. That’s one of the many reasons it’s so important to make sure employees understand how and when to use their preventive care benefits.
Encourage Employees to Use Their Benefits
While some people may have gotten out of the habit of seeking preventive care during the pandemic, others may not even realize they should schedule routine appointments with their healthcare providers, such as screenings and physicals. They may also be unaware that many preventive services are available at no cost to them or their dependents (as long as their provider is in-network). For instance, between 2019 and 2020, 22% of Americans said they avoided preventive care — including doctor visits, medications, vaccinations, annual exams, screenings, vision checks and routine blood work — due to the perceived cost, according to an online survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. adults conducted on behalf of Bankrate.
Another obstacle to preventive care to keep in mind is that some individuals may be reluctant to schedule in-person doctor visits due to lingering concerns about catching Covid or other illnesses. You can remind them that telehealth visits may be an option, but also let them know that doctors’ offices and healthcare professionals are taking precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy. While some services, such as mammograms, can’t be done virtually, telehealth can make certain types of preventive care — such as annual well visits — easier and more convenient to access.
In addition to helping employees recognize the importance of seeking timely preventive care, you should also make sure they understand what services are covered under their health plan. Preventive care services are available to both adults and children, however, the recommended age and frequency of routine care and screenings may vary.
Some services might include:
- Wellness exams
- Blood pressure screening
- Breast (mammograms) and cervical cancer screenings
- Cholesterol tests
- Colon and prostate cancer screenings
- Depression screenings
- Hepatitis screenings
- Reproductive and women’s health care
- Pregnancy-related screenings and testing
- Well-baby and well-child exams
- Autism and behavioral screenings
- TB testing
- Vision screening
Tips to Stay Healthy
They say the best defense is a strong offense. Preventive care is the first line of defense when it comes to helping employees stay healthy and maintain their overall well-being. Employers can help by reminding employees to:
- Schedule an annual check-up or physical
- Check in with their mental health
- Get lab tests and other routine screenings
- Keep current with their vaccinations
Preventive care is critical to long-term health. Although some employees may have put off essential routine appointments during the pandemic, you can help by encouraging them to get back in the habit of using their preventive care benefits to get and stay healthy. Need some ideas? HR Benefits, Inc., a WTIA subsidiary, can help. For more information about our health programs and preventive care services, visit https://www.washingtontechnology.org/services/medical/, or contact your broker or Raven Mencias at firstname.lastname@example.org.