Most people think about planning for the future in financial terms, for example how much money they should save for retirement and how to invest that money to reach their goals. But there’s another type of planning that’s equally important—health risk management. Knowing what health risks you may face and what you can do to manage those risks and improve your health, wellbeing, and longevity starts with a personalized, proactive plan.
Why do you need a health risk management plan? There are several key reasons:
- Your lifestyle choices affect your risk of developing a range of health problems: Leading a healthy lifestyle can significantly lower your risk of developing a range of chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, back and joint problems, and respiratory problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lifestyle choices can also affect your risk of being diagnosed with certain types of cancer. By choosing to follow a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, practice stress management, get adequate sleep, and avoid the use of tobacco and the misuse of alcohol, your risk of developing these conditions can be lowered. But one study found that 97% of Americans don’t meet even the basic qualifications of a healthy lifestyle, so those risks go unchecked.1
- Your family health history can help you proactively lower your risk. Knowing your family health history is the foundation of an effective health risk management plan. With this information in hand, you and your doctor can develop a personalized plan to lower your risk of developing a broad spectrum of chronic and even life-threatening health problems. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 33% of people in the U.S. have gathered this important information.2
- Medical errors and misdiagnosis put your health at risk. The risk of experiencing a medical error is higher than you may think. Most Americans experience at least one inaccurate or delayed diagnosis in their lifetime. About 12 million people in the U.S. who seek outpatient medical care experience some form of diagnostic error each year.3 And the effect of these errors can be life-threatening. Research from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer.4
- Inappropriate treatment causes harm and poorer health outcomes. Inappropriate or unnecessary treatment can take several forms:
- Inadequate treatment despite clinical evidence or guidelines that support specific treatment benefit to the patient
- Inappropriate treatments that have no clinical evidence or proven benefit and which can pose potential harm to the patient
- Unnecessary treatments for stable conditions that do not pose a serious threat to the patient’s health
Not receiving the appropriate treatment or receiving unneeded treatment can cause complications, poorer treatment outcomes, disability, and in some cases, lower survival rates.
- Finding the best care when traveling is very difficult. Where would you go to receive care if you become ill or are injured while traveling in the U.S. or abroad and need emergency treatment? In most cases, care is usually provided at the nearest hospital or doctor’s office, but there is no guarantee that the care you receive will be quality care. That can increase the risk that you’ll receive inappropriate care. In addition, if your medical records can’t be quickly provided to the doctors who are treating you, you’re at an increased risk for medical errors and poorer outcomes.
- The cost of poor health is high and it rises as you age. Managing chronic health problems can be costly. More than half of all Americans are currently living with at least one chronic health problem. The cost of medications and frequent doctor and specialist visits to manage these health problems can add up to thousands of dollars per year. And these problems can become more complex and cause additional health problems as you get older. Average out-of-pocket healthcare costs for a couple double from $6,996 per year at age 65 to $13,992 by age 85.5
You can learn how to build a personalized health risk management plan by downloading our Health Risk Management white paper:Download Now
The paper includes information on the five pillars that should be included in any comprehensive health risk management plan and what steps you should take now to lower your risks and achieve your health and wellness goals.
- Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics and Their Joint Association With Cardiovascular Disease Biomarkers in US Adults, Paul D. Loprinzi, PhD, Adam Branscum, PhD, June Hanks, PhD, DPT, PT, Ellen Smit, PhD, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)00043-4/abstract.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, PW Yoon, ScD, MT Scheuner, MD, M Gwinn, MD, MJ Khoury, MD, PhD, Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention; C Jorgensen, DrPH, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; S Hariri, PhD, S Lyn, MD, EIS officers, CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5344a5.htm.
- Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare, Erin P. Balogh, Bryan T. Miller, and John R. Ball, Editors. http://www.nap.edu/21794.
- Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US, Martin A Makary, Michael Daniel, BMJ 2016;353:i2139, http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139.long.
- Health View Services: 2015 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report, https://www.hvsfinancial.com/PublicFiles/Data_Release.pdf.