Patients should have low-cost access to essential preventative care, like physicals and cancer screenings. By focusing on our citizens’ health before they get sick, we can reduce the huge costs associated with managing chronic health conditions.
In addition to more preventative healthcare, it is essential that we recognize the impact of factors outside the clinic or hospital that contribute to health outcomes. We must teach healthy habits to young people and children. Eating an apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it does promote healthy eating. Teaching kids the basics of a nutritious diet (and providing them healthy meals at school) and providing early screenings to identify flags like behavioral issues and different types of disabilities are key pieces in building towards positive outcomes. Tackling these issues early gives kids the best shot at leading a healthy life.
13.7 million children and adolescents and 93.3 million adults in the U.S. are battling obesity. Genetics is a factor, but so are a lack of physical activity and consumption of ultra-processed foods. Exercise for people of all ages has been recommended by physicians to prevent and help not only obesity, but also cardiovascular disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and depression.
We have seen a significant reduction in the use of combustible cigarettes and tobacco, but there is always room to improve. Nearly 38 million American adults still smoke cigarettes every day and nearly 9 million vape, not including the recent spike in the number of youth vaping. The risks associated with smoking, whether combustible cigarettes or e-cigarettes, pose long-term health hazards that we must continue to combat.
Low-income Americans are often faced with a terrible choice: buy food, or pay for medical care. Increasing Americans’ buying power through the Freedom Dividend will create great new demand for healthy grocers to open stores in food deserts. By alleviating constraints on access to care and to healthy foods, we can improve people’s lives and reduce the amount of money we spend on long-term care.
America is one of the most developed countries in the world, but 41 million Americans face hunger, including nearly 13 million children. Food insecurity disproportionately affects households with children led by single women and people living below the poverty level. Other families are scraping by, but their incomes make them ineligible for any form of federal food assistance. Food security through public health intervention not only ensures Americans have enough food, it has the potential of reducing the development of malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, and other health risks. This extensive problem has a solution, but it needs the support of the food banks, clinics, and the federal government. We have to build programs that create partnerships between clinics and food banks to address food security and health. Indianapolis has implemented a program like this in 2017 and continues to serve an average of 135 households in the community. Imagine how many Americans we can promise nutritious food at the table by implementing this on a larger scale.
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Problems to be Solved
- Countless Americans are experiencing severe medical complications that could be prevented with early health education.
- Food insecurity continues to plague 41 million Americans, 13 million of which are children.
- Low-income Americans are often the most at risk of health complications due to diets lacking in proper nutrition, and many have to choose between paying for medical care or buying sufficient food.
Preventative care is a critical part of managing our nation’s health. Whether that means going for annual physical exams, eating healthier food, quitting smoking, or exercising regularly, preventative care helps us avoid chronic medical problems that are the main drivers of healthcare costs. We need to stress the importance of preventative care and provide education on building healthy habits will help people live longer, healthier lives.
- Educate patients about the importance of preventative healthcare
- Encourage food access and reduce health disparities
- Incentivize habits and activities that promote healthy lifestyles
As President, I will...
- Encourage doctors to educate their patients about the importance of diet, nutrition, and physical activity on overall health.
- Incentivize integrated preventative care and healthy activities, like gym memberships, biking to work, and consuming fresh produce.
- Offer incentives for food banks and clinics to partner together to promote food accessibility and reduce health disparity.