Choose life and speak life – these are phrases I grew up hearing while growing up in the black church. Usually, they are used as euphemisms. However, there is a literal meaning we could glean from the specific phrase “choose life” in the context of our nation’s healthcare crisis. The new healthcare bill is back this week *insert a sarcastic squeal of delight*. To be truthful, people of color probably will be adversely affected by any version of this healthcare bill. Minorities have always had issues with healthcare access and affordability. If an individual does not have health insurance but has a medical emergency, they will be in more than a pickle. The average congressman just does not live within that context. Part of combating these issues is healthcare activism and it is an important catalyst for change. However, while activism can turn society’s cogs and gears, there is still an interim period. There is still the day-to-day, 24 hours of highs and lows we all experience. If someone falls ill in the interim period of activism and tangible results – they are quite simply screwed. Life does not stop, so literally – we have to choose life. And I would advocate that a tangible way to choose life is by taking preventative care more seriously.
Roper Insurance, a Colorado insurance company, gives a pretty simple definition for preventative care:
“Preventive care is a type of health care whose purpose is to shift the focus of health care from treating sickness to maintaining wellness and good health. Preventive care occurs before you feel sick or notice any symptoms and is designed to prevent or delay the onset of illness and disease.”
There are a couple of different ways to incorporate preventative care into your life. The easiest place to start is with healthy lifestyle – eating well, sleeping well, and exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) , about half of all adults had one or more chronic health conditions in 2012. Chronic diseases account for most of the deaths in the United States, with heart disease and cancer accounting for almost 46% of all deaths. However, the CDC goes further to show that risk factors for these diseases are poor diets, tobacco use, and obesity. Living an healthier lifestyle to combat potential diseases isn’t revolutionary. However, we forget how lifestyle changes are low budget ways (compared to hospital bills) to take control of your health. Are they 100% effective? No. But can it set you up for a fair shake at protecting your health? Yes. Sleep, better nutrition, and exercise are the foundation of avoiding sickness.
Preventative care in the medical sense can seem expensive, and in a lot of ways it is. But there are plenty of opportunities to get preventative work done with minimal dime. Free health screenings are a very helpful and useful option. Health screenings are tests that can identify diseases in an individual – preferably in the early stages. Corporations like CVS or Sam’s Club, hospitals, and local churches can have free health screenings regularly. Also, it is important to know where your local urgent care is. Urgent care facilities tend to offer basic medical services at a slightly lower price. You can save money on mental health services too. Usually, if you attend a college or university where you are required to have health insurance, therapy is free from the student health services department. Matter of fact, my current therapist is from my school – fabulous, super sweet, and free. There are also apps that you can download that give discounted health services. Talkspace is an app with online therapy service where you can text or call a therapist regularly for about $35 per month. There are free apps, like Headspace, for guided meditation as well.
I never needed a Trump presidency for me to understand how most of America felt about me as a black female. At minimum, on a good day, when the birds are singing and the sun is shining, majority peoples are not necessarily worried about my needs. Nor are they worried about my family and friends’ needs. Fine. But today, we have got to look out for our own. What African American social change groups, such as the NAACP and black community churches, understood is that we have to provide avenues for ourselves to be well. Poverty, disenfranchisement, and unequal footing may never go away. Access has improved, but there is a long way to go. So in the interim, we must choose life.
- Talkspace – website
- Headspace – website
- CVS: Project Health – screening schedule
- U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce – Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age
- U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce – Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age
“Chronic Disease Overview | Publications | Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion | CDC,” June 28, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/index.htm.