Why is something as preventable and controllable as heart disease killing more of us than any other disease? That’s what federal agencies, health systems, nonprofit groups and many in the private sector asked in 2011. That’s when the Dept. of Health and Human Services brought them together to build the Million Hearts initiative. They’re working in unison to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over five years, and they need your help.
You can be one of the million who don’t suffer a heart attack or stroke, and it may be easier than you think. If you bought your last health insurance policy after the health care reform act became law, it covers the main things that help a doctor tell if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease. As long as your doctor is considered to be an in-network provider, your insurance won’t apply a deductible or co-payments to these types of heart-related health care:
1. Checking your blood pressure
2. Seeing if aspirin is appropriate for people in the second half of life
3. For men of a certain age who have smoked, an abdominal aortic screening can find a problem that gives no symptoms before you’re in trouble.
Of course, an annual physical is completely covered with no out-pocket costs, too. And, so are some other services you may not have realized can help you keep your heart healthy. Did you know eating at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day is one of the best things you can do for your heart? And, if you’re at risk for chronic disease, newer health insurance plans cover diet counseling with no out-of-pocket costs to you. Being overweight is another big drain on your heart. And, of course, so is smoking. Helping you quit is something else your doctor can work with you on that’s covered under newer policies independent of policy deductibles or co-payment requirements.
I used to coach people on lifestyle change, and I know how challenging it can be. But people do it all the time, and it is really the only thing that will make a big difference in the long run.