Originally published in the Katy Times
When it comes to a health scare, many of us like to think in the form of the question, “is it treatable, or is it preventable?”
Currently, the U.S. health care system is modeled as “sick care,” reacting to illnesses and ailments often after they’ve already been diagnosed or experienced. We are more focused on treating conditions and sickness than preventing them from happening in the first place. Preventative medicine not only saves the patient themselves money and from spending time in the hospital or taking countless medications, but it also saves our economy and therefore taxpayers millions by minimizing expensive emergent care.
Preventative care is especially important for older Americans and people with disabilities who are often more at risk for injury and illness. For these vulnerable populations, hospital stays and surgeries can be determinantal to a person’s overall health, not to mention their finances. It’s of the utmost importance to do what we can to keep older Americans and people with disabilities out of the hospital and as healthy as possible. The truth is, they cannot bounce back as quickly as children or younger adults can.
Luckily, for the over 30 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Advantage, this program puts an emphasis on preventative care for all its enrollees. Medicare Advantage is available for Americans living with a disability or who are over the age of 65. In contrast with original Medicare, Medicare Advantage provides expansive services at a more affordable rate, while allowing enrollees to get all their health coverage and care needs in one place through care coordination.
I spent my career in the health care field as a nurse and that experience showed me just how beneficial Medicare Advantage is, both for its focus on preventative care and its commitment to an enrollee’s quality of care.
For enrollees, Medicare Advantage offers preventative care services including screenings for cancer and other ailments. The program also encourages enrollees to stay active, one of the best single things you can do to continue living a fulfilled and happy life into an older age. Working out has positive outcomes for heart health, mental health, and preventing diseases like diabetes. Keeping enrollees fit and flexible also prevents injury which can be harmful to seniors’ health.
Another unique part of the care offered through Medicare Advantage is the coordinated care structure. People with disabilities or health conditions often have many providers treating different aspects of their health. This can include physical therapists, mental health providers, pulmonologists, and more. Although they all treat different aspects of a person’s health, it’s vital that they are all updated on the enrollee’s medical status so they can be provided the best quality of care. Medicare Advantage coordinates all the necessary communication and care so enrollees never have to worry.
Prevention is always cheaper and better than treatment. I hope the Biden Administration will continue supporting Medicare Advantage and ensure it is fully funded in 2024. Any cuts that would impact and harm the care of its enrollees should be unacceptable.