June 21, 2024

There are many things you can do to stay healthy. Eat nutritious foods. Move your body through exercise or recreation. Stay at a healthy weight. Don’t use tobacco or drugs. Limit alcohol intake. Get enough sleep. But another important part of being—and staying—healthy is getting routine preventive health care checkups.

So exactly what is preventive care, and what are its benefits?

“Preventive health care is the use of recognized proactive health screenings, counseling, and maintenance to prevent future illness,” said Jeannine Pickrell, nurse director for TRICARE Health Plan Disease Management & Population Health at the Defense Health Agency. “It takes into account your family health history, lifestyle, and other risk factors.”

Preventive health services play a key role in your long-term physical and mental health. Read on to learn more about the benefits of preventive health care and how TRICARE covers these services.

Preventive health checkups can help avoid health problems before they start. They also help in detecting conditions that you may be at risk for.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventive health care can help find and diagnose of illnesses or diseases by tracking blood pressure, cholesterol, and getting diabetes screenings. This means treatment can start early and is most likely to be effective. Regular preventive checkups have been shown to reduce the risk for serious illness or diseases, like cancer.

When to start health screenings—and how often you have them—will vary. For instance, your gender, age, family history, and other risk factors. For each screening, TRICARE offers guidelines to help you plan. Your primary health care provider will also tell you when you’re due for your screenings.

TRICARE covers many types of preventive health care exams and screenings. Many of them are conducted in a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP&DP) exam.

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Adults

As we age, it’s important to know when to start preventive care.  

Men should get regular prostate cancer exams. Women should get well-woman exams (includes breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests) and mammograms.

There are special screenings such as a bone density scan to check for osteoporosis, or colonoscopy, to determine the health of the colon. CDC guidelines advise a colonoscopy once every 10 years beginning at age 45 for individuals at average risk for colon cancer.

These types of non-routine screenings are for patients with signs or symptoms or are at high risk of developing a condition. Some may require a referral or pre-authorization from your doctor.

Children

Preventive services are key for kids to stay healthy. And, getting your kids in the routine of getting regular checkups is a great habit they’ll take into adulthood.

As described in the TRICARE Costs and Fees Fact Sheet, TRICARE makes it easy to get the preventive care you and your family need.

If you use a TRICARE network provider TRICARE covers all clinical preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs. TRICARE Prime covers one HP&DP exam annually.

If you have TRICARE For Life, you may have a TRICARE cost-share for any preventive service that Medicare or TRICARE doesn’t cover. Visit Medicare’s preventive coverage and screenings page for more information.

Remember, even if you feel well, it’s important to see a doctor regularly to:

  • Maintain good health.
  • Help avoid problems in the future.
  • Detect a condition before it worsens.

Be proactive and schedule your preventive health exams this year. Visit TRICARE preventive services to learn more.

 

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