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How Health Insurance Can Help You Live Longer

Health insurance has long been a major concern for Americans. In the past few years, millions of Americans have signed up for health coverage through programs sponsored by the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Whether you have coverage through your employer, the health insurance marketplaces or a government program like Medicaid, you should be happy that you and your loved ones have the insurance you need to protect your health and finances.

You may be surprised to learn that health insurance offers more than security against medical emergencies. New studies show that getting and maintaining a health plan will also help you live healthier and extend your life. Obtaining health insurance is one of the smartest things you can do to avoid chronic illness and catastrophic injury.

Insured People are Healthier

You are probably reluctant to believe that a health plan somehow improves the health of the policyholder, but there is strong evidence that that is exactly the case.  In a 2013 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that people who had coverage through Medicaid did enjoy better health for a number of reasons.

The study examined a group of people who won an Oregon “lottery” to get insurance through Medicaid, a federally subsidized program that insures low income Americans. Researchers examined the health of people who won coverage as well as those who were refused.

Although many health metrics like cholesterol and blood pressure levels remained the same for both groups, the study found that the insured had lower rates of depression and higher rates of diabetes detection as well as better management of the disease.  It was also found that there were lower levels of stress due to financial insecurity.

Feel Happier

It appears that being insured produces many positive health benefits, but perhaps the most immediate is emotional relief from the fear of the potential cost of a major medical crisis.  Newly insured people experience a boost in emotional health and a decline in stress. This heightened mental health does produce major health benefits like a greater quality of life and emotional wellbeing which influences self-care efforts like exercising and maintaining a healthy diet.

Improved mental health may also play a significant role in seeking out medical care. The NEJM study also found that people on Medicaid visited a doctor more often, and were more likely to get screened for high cholesterol or breast cancer.

Greater Appreciation of Life

Although there is still some debate about whether there is a direct link between health care access and improved overall health, there is mounting evidence to suggest there is.  One of the most important benefits of health coverage is that the insured are more likely to visit a physician, both for checkups as well as for treatment. 

A poll conducted by Gallup found that among people without insurance, there was an average of 4.6 doctor visits per 12 month period, while there were 8.1 visits per 12 month period among people on Medicaid. Not only does this indicate that insured people were more willing to get vital medical care, they are also more likely to obtain this care in a timely fashion.  More health coverage is important to quickly treating health issues before they grow into much more dangerous emergencies, but it also helps keep costs lower because more serious conditions found later in a disease’s or injury’s progression are often more expensive to remedy.

Another 2008 study in Lancet found that people without insurance were less likely to get screened for cancer. Using the records of more than 3 million patients, researchers found that patients were less likely to submit to screenings for 12 kinds of cancer if they were uninsured.  This heightened the odds that these uninsured patients would eventually be diagnosed with advanced stage cancers.

Preventive Care

Some of the most important benefits of health insurance are the many free preventive care services every policyholder has access to. Under the Affordable Care Act, all policyholders obtain access to services like tobacco use counseling, diabetes screening, colorectal cancer screening, alcohol misuse counseling, diet counseling, hepatitis B screening and immunization vaccines.

These preventive care services help people learn about health issues they may have been unaware of and enable them to take immediate steps to cure or manage them. This cannot only improve the health of patients immediately, thereby strengthening their general quality of life, but is likely to eliminate major health events down the road that could dramatically shorten their lives.   

Services like alcohol or tobacco counseling can help patients break extremely harmful addictions and pick up much healthier patterns of behavior like regular exercise, artistic endeavors or meditation. Ready access to health professionals will ensure that you diagnose any pre-existing or emerging health conditions as well as properly respond to them. 

People who are under the guidance of a physician have a valuable health resource which they can take advantage of to optimize their health.  For example, they may learn that they are at high risk for a major health event like a heart attack or a stroke and take appropriate steps like take aspirin on a daily basis.  Their doctor may offer low-cost, low risk remedies that may offer substantial health benefits over the long run.

Health Insurance is a Life Saver

Finally, the most obvious way that health insurance protects you is by paying for life-saving therapies.  Although most medical organizations won’t turn away patients if they are experiencing an acute emergency like a heart attack, they are under no obligation to help patients unable to pay for treatment.  That means if you need an expensive procedure like an organ transplant or chemotherapy, and you don’t have insurance, a hospital or doctor is perfectly within their rights to deny you their services.  In many cases, having health insurance may mean the difference between life and death.

To find a health plan that protects you and your family, please visit Boost Health Insurance.

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