June marks the beginning of summer and Father’s Day. It’s no surprise that June is also National Men’s Health Month! This nationwide event encourages our male friends and family members to think about their health. In 1994, Congress recognized June as a time to raise awareness for male preventive care, early detection of diseases, and healthy lifestyle choices.
Most men don’t visit the doctor enough. In fact, men are 33% less likely to seek medical treatment than women for the same health issues. Public stigma, lack of health education, and social expectations all contribute to unnecessarily poor health outcomes for men.
Fortunately, the increasing awareness of men’s health issues is closing this gap. To begin the discussion of men’s health topics, we’re talking about 4 diseases that men are at a greater risk of developing compared to women:
1. Heart Disease: According to the American Heart Association, more than 1 in 3 men has a type of heart disease – the leading cause of death for men. Genetics can play a significant role in cardiovascular diseases. You may be at greater risk if a close family member also has heart disease.
1. Schedule an appointment with a common primary care physician – such as an internist, family physician, or family nurse practitioner. Basic cardiovascular tests don’t need to be done by a specialist.
If your visit is billed as a preventive care screening, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may require your health plan to pay for your visit in full. Discuss the main purpose of your visit with the doctor’s office before you see the doctor, and you may be fully reimbursed.
2. Tell your doctor about your environment and family history.
3. Get a cholesterol screening and blood pressure test. According to Healthcare Bluebook, $14 is a fair price for a cholesterol test.
4. If you are prescribed RX treatment, the cost should be low. A 60-day supply of Lopressor, a common blood pressure medication, can be found for $8.
Preventive Measures: If your environment or family history puts you at a higher chance for cardiovascular problems, frequent screenings can lead to earlier detection of diseases. Regular visits to the doctor can help you monitor your heart health.
Fortunately, screenings for cardiovascular disease are covered by traditional health plans. Preventive care – an essential health benefit under Obamacare – includes screenings for cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Visits to a doctor or specialist can help you determine if you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease.
Taking Care: Typically, medications are the first line of treatment for cardiovascular disease in order to reduce the risk for potential heart attacks. Prescription drugs are also an essential health benefit, meaning that your health insurance will cover costs for medication. There are different classifications of drugs that your doctor may prescribe depending on your condition.
Your doctor may also ask you to make lifestyle modifications, such as changing your diet and reducing your stress. With an ACA plan, you may receive coverage for nutritional therapy as well as counseling and screenings for tobacco and alcohol use.
2. Cancer: From genetic predispositions to unhealthy behaviors, men are at an increased risk for lung, skin, and prostate cancers compared to women. Early detection of cancer has a tremendous impact in later treatment ability and survival rates. Click To Tweet Taking the measures to prevent cancer may ultimately save your life.
Preventive Measures: As a start, you can perform self-examinations for cancer by regularly checking for any abnormalities at home. However, if you would like help from doctor or a specialist, preventive screenings for cancer can be free or mostly covered by major health insurance plans. Depending on your health insurance provider, the number of free or covered screenings per year can vary.
Leading a healthy lifestyle can also reduce your risk of developing cancer. For example, applying sunscreen when outdoors, cutting out smoking, and managing your stress can all improve your health.
Taking Care: Cancer can require extensive treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and prescription medicine, and the type of health insurance you have will impact the cost of medical treatments. It is important to have major medical insurance, also known as ACA plans, because they can’t deny you or increase premiums if you have cancer.
You can also sign up for cancer insurance that will help you cover costs if you fall ill. However, you cannot apply once you are diagnosed with cancer; you have to apply in good health.
3. Diabetes: Diabetes continues to affect men today. The 2017 National Diabetes Statistic Report found that 4 million men have diabetes but are undiagnosed by a doctor. If left untreated, diabetes can increase your risk for other serious physical complications.
Preventive Measures: Diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Staying physically active and eating a well-balanced diet can drastically reduce your chances for developing the disease.
Your health insurance will likely cover screenings for diabetes as preventive care. If you are at an increased risk, nutritional therapy with a professional may also be covered by your health plan.
Taking Care: Insulin therapy is the most popular treatment for diabetes. Individuals with diabetes are also often required to regularly test their blood glucose levels. Depending on your health insurance plan, your provider may cover medication, supplies, and equipment to help you manage the disease.
Because diabetes is a chronic illness, major health insurance plans will cover chronic management as well as prescription drugs under the ACA’s essential health benefits. However, health plans will differ from each other, so it’s important to check with your provider to learn the specifics of your share of the costs.
4. Depression and Other Mental Illnesses: Mental health continues to remain a particularly stigmatized topic for men that affects the rate to which they seek help. It’s important to know that symptoms of mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, can occur in any individual, regardless of gender.
Preventive Measures: Online tools can also help you learn more about symptoms of mental health as well as offer preliminary self-screenings. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you should see a mental health professional. Because screenings for depression will be covered by ACA health plans, you can see a psychiatrist or psychologist at low costs.
Taking Care: Services for mental health and substance use disorders, including therapy sessions, are covered by major health insurance companies as an ACA essential health benefit. Finding a mental health professional to speak can help you manage your symptoms and lead a healthier life. With the increasing visibility of mental health, resources to seek help are becoming easier to find.
If you need prescription medications, health insurance companies may also cover the costs for pharmacological treatments. It is important to check with your health provider to learn more of your plan’s specifics as well as generic drug options that can help lower the costs.
Your health insurance plan can play an important role when it comes to covering certain preventive services and treatment options. By reading your plan’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage, you can learn about medical services covered by your provider and get the help you need without feeling financially burdened.
Men and women are both encouraged to see a primary care physician regularly. However, depending on your age and health condition, timelines for routine screenings can vary. Your health insurance will help you take preventive measures by covering costs for doctor’s visits and checkups.
The National Men’s Health Month website has collected over 50 official government proclamations from 2018 alone that brought attention to men’s health issues throughout the country. With help from the media and healthcare providers, the conversation on men’s health can continue throughout the year.
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