An important trend that’s emerging with coronavirus (COVID-19) is the deferral of any discretionary care. Yes, there is a current global health crisis, but for those with a chronic health issue, it is critical to keep up with preventive care to be sure conditions are managed. An annual physical performed as a check-in on current conditions or for early detection of pre-diabetes, hypertension or an immune deficiency might help effectively mitigate increased risk of a severe COVID-19 episode. It’s important that employees speak with their primary care doctor (or establish one) to be sure they’re up to date on exams, that maintenance medications are accurate, and that they stay adherent to the recommended protocols.
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Viewpoints from Craig Schmidt
If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that our individual and community health matters more than we ever thought. The decisions we make impact not only ourselves but our community, as my colleague, Claire Letourneau, covers in her recent article. Younger individuals who have no underlying health conditions may be willing to take greater risks with social practices while those over age 65 or who’ve been diagnosed with a comorbid, chronic illness are taking drastic precautions and being more risk-averse. I must stress the fact that the decisions made regarding health don’t just impact the decision-maker, they impact those with whom they come into direct contact.
So please encourage your employees to get their annual wellness exams. If chronic illness goes undiagnosed or known chronic illnesses aren’t routinely checked on and maintained, educated decisions cannot be made on the possible risk level for severe COVID-19 symptoms – and managing a chronic condition correctly will lessen the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.
Now is the time for human resources teams to remind employees to keep up with their recommended health and wellness exams.
Annual physicals are covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and allow the patient to build a relationship with a primary care physician. And while hospital care resources are stretched thin, other physicians and ancillary providers have plenty of excess capacity. Those who are managing chronic conditions should be reminded to take advantage of early refills and 90-day prescriptions to ensure their care goes uninterrupted and they remain compliant.
Catching a chronic illness early with an annual exam could reduce the financial burden down the line.
It has been estimated that the cost of deferring preventive care is three times the cost of the care, so a dollar that is not spent today will cost three in the future and it means dealing with health adversity. An annual physical shouldn’t be looked at as an elective procedure; it’s vital in the fight against today’s COVID-19 pandemic and tomorrow’s chronic disease. This is a fight we can win.
Director, Wellness & Health Management – Concord, CA