a statewide queer people of color organization

Why preventative care matters to QPOC

The term ‘preventative care’ is often used when talking about health, but it’s never really talked about in depth. What is Preventative care? And why is it important to QPOC? Preventative care may be taking steps to care for yourself, or meeting with a healthcare provider, before you are sick or experiencing symptoms of sickness. By doing so, you may be able to reduce the chances of becoming very sick, and increase the chances that you and your provider will be able to notice any new changes to your health. Currently most insurance providers cover preventative care and yearly wellness check-ups at no cost to you.

Why is it important?

First off, it keeps you healthier. For some people going to a provider or doctor before you are sick may seem counterintuitive, but many sicknesses, diseases and medical conditions are easier and less expensive to treat if noticed and treated earlier. And often times as QPOC we, for many reasons, avoid going to a health care provider unless absolutely necessary, which can lead to us receiving diagnoses for health conditions later and begin treatment further in the progression of the disease.  Annual or regular preventative visits to your provider can help you and your provider track any changes that are happening, as well as giving you an opportunity to ask questions about health and wellness. We should not wait until we are in pain or discomfort to begin to take care of ourselves. This point intersects with all aspects of our health, but is especially noticeable when it comes to our mental health. Many people do not put the time or effort into caring for their mental health. Preventative care for mental and spiritual health is just as important as physical health.

It can save you money

It has actually been shown that preventative care can, for some people, lower the overall cost you end up spending on health and wellness. For some sickness, diseases, and medical conditions the more time that passes before treatment begins the more it can cost to effectively treat or care for those conditions. As well as the fact that most preventative care will hopefully be small costs at regular intervals instead of large unaccounted for treatment costs.

Things you can do to practice preventative care:

Annual wellness check-ups can help you and your health care provider stay on top of any changes that are happening with your body and health.  Annual Wellness check ups are often covered by most insurance companies, and some providers may offer a sliding scale or reduced rate for people without insurance who wish to have a wellness check up.

Preventative care doesn’t always have to mean going to your health care provider. Something as simple as tracking your blood pressure may help you be aware of when things are happening in your body. High and low blood pressure can be signs of many different things happening in your body and regularly checking can help you to understand what you are experiencing. You can buy blood pressure monitors from most pharmacies. It is a good idea, if you have insurance, to call your insurance company before you buy one, as some companies may reimburse some or all of the cost to purchase one. In fact it’s a good idea to call your insurance before buying any medical device as they may cover a lot more than most people expect.

Working out for at least 30 minutes a day may help prevent many different health conditions and has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Working out may also help improve sleep, relieve stress and help regulate sugar levels.

As I said above, it’s a good idea to know the things that your insurance covers, and some insurers cover more than some people know about. Many insurance companies make money by having many people pay for coverage, but few that access services. Meaning that they have money coming in, but not going out. In this way they are incentivized to not let you know about all the services that they cover, or offer to you at no cost to you. Currently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all marketplace policies, and a few others, to cover certain preventative health care services at no cost to you. Some policies which are not available on the marketplace still follow these guidelines. At the bottom of this blog we have included links that will let you know what services are covered at no cost to you by ACA and other insurance plans

Preventative Care can have a large impact on helping to make our QPOC communities strong and healthy. It might be a good idea, with all that is happening around the ACA to schedule an  appointment with your healthcare provider now.

For people without insurance, there are many free or low cost wellness services offered through local and state health departments and community organizations. The City of Austin Health Equity department has some free and low cost services that can be accessed by many people. We have included links to some of these services below.

Let’s work together as a community to ensure that our QPOC community members are able to live long, happy, healthy lives. How do you practice preventative care? What recommendations do you have for other QPOC around health and wellness? Let us know, and make sure to send this to someone who can benefit from knowing more about preventative health care.

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Links to Preventative Care Services:

Click here to see all the Preventative Medical Services available at no cost to adults who have a ACA health care plan, click here for services specific to women’s health, and here for services specific to children’s health. Remember that these services are required under the ACA to be covered by your insurance company at no cost to you. Also remember that many plans that do not fall under the ACA must also offer these services at no cost. If you do not have insurance some providers may have a sliding scale program for people wanting to access preventative health care services.
Click here to see how to access low to no cost vaccinations through the City of Austin (CoA). The CoA also has a Mobile Van Program where you can receive blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as pregnancy, and HIV/STI tests, click here to see more information. Click here for free services in Austin to help quit tobacco. The second Saturday of every month from 9:00am-2:00pm HEB pharmacies offer free blood sugar and blood pressure checks, click here to learn more.