Your body also needs routine maintenance
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List
I’ve talked a lot the past 16 years about the value of preventive maintenance for your home, your lawn and your car. As consumers, we know that by addressing small problems early and following routine maintenance guidelines, things typically work better and last longer.
We also save money in the long run by avoiding expensive repairs. But how diligent are we in taking those same preventive measures with our own health care? If you neglect your furnace, at worst, you’ll have to buy a new furnace. But you can’t buy a new you.
Practicing preventive health care, even if you are in excellent health, is the best way to prevent illness and disease from occurring. If you do have an illness, you’re more likely to find it early through regular doctor visits, which will only improve your odds of recovery. Some studies have shown preventable illnesses account for approximately 80 percent of all illnesses and 90 percent of all health care costs.
Ask yourself, would you rather pay a little now for care or face costly treatments later? A direct result of these preventable costs are the wellness programs being offered by more and more employers. These programs have proven to not only reduce both employees’ and employers’ health care costs, but improve employee fitness levels and overall health.
We have such a program at Angie’s List, where our motto is “Fitness for Life.” Our wellness director, Kelsey Taylor, leads our efforts as a personal trainer for employees in our on-site gym. Kelsey is the embodiment of health and fitness, so imagine her shock when — after she participated in our free annual employee health screening — her doctor called her with bad news. Her iron levels were so low that she was at an immediate risk for a stroke or heart attack.
Kelsey had a blood transfusion the next day and now takes iron supplements to keep her levels steady. “I eat well. I exercise. I make all the right health choices, but I had an ongoing issue I kind of ignored,” Kelsey says. “If it wouldn’t have been for that test, I would never have seen it coming.” She admits now she was tired in the weeks leading up to the test. Your house and car usually give you signs when a repair is needed, and so does your body.
Be proactive with your health care. Listen to your body. If you haven’t visited your doctor within the past year or don’t have a primary care physician, find one and schedule an exam. Read reports on Angie’s List. Look for traits in the provider that are important to you.
Whether you already have a doctor or you find one through Angie’s List, make a promise that you’ll see a doctor in 2012 and will practice preventive health care, if you haven’t already done so. It could save your life.