Are you worried about heart disease? You can stop worrying and get checked to see how likely you are to get it -- for free. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans will offer you access to free tests for conditions that lead to heart disease. You could also get free preventive services to help you focus on making your everyday habits heart-healthy.
Free Heart Disease Tests
With most health insurance plans, you can receive free tests for these conditions without having to pay a copay, coinsurance, or even a deductible. These tests are used to help find conditions early, before you have symptoms.
- High blood pressure. You have to have your blood pressure checked to know if it's high. You can't always feel high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol . With a small sample of your blood, your doctor can check your good cholesterol called HDL and your bad cholesterol, called LDL.
- Obesity. Being overweight increases your chance of having high blood pressure and diabetes -- and both of these raise your risk for heart disease. After your doctor checks your weight, he or she can direct you to free counseling for obesity if you are at risk.
- Type 2 Diabetes. Your doctor can use a small sample of your blood to check your blood sugar (glucose) levels. The results show if you have prediabetes or diabetes.
Free Preventive Care Services for Your Heart
Having your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight checked routinely is the first part of preventive heart care. You can also use free services from your health plan to improve habits that affect your chances of getting heart disease.
Nutrition counseling. What you eat affects your risk of heart disease. A number of states require plans to offer free nutrition counseling to help you choose heart-healthy foods more often.
Obesity counseling. If your weight is raising your risk of heart disease, counseling may help you lose and manage your weight and lower your risk. If you are overweight or obese, even losing 10 pounds can lower your chance of developing heart disease.Your doctor can tell you about different ways to lose weight, such as a weight loss plan with personalized counseling. A plan could involve setting weight loss goals, improving your diet, and increasing physical activity.
Tobacco use. Your doctor can help you develop a plan for quitting or guide you to someone who can. A solid quit-plan can include strategies to handle cravings, medication, getting support from family and friends, and exercise.
Who Can Get Free Preventive Care?
Most health insurance companies must cover these services. The exceptions are grandfathered plans, which are health plans that existed before March 2010 that have not made significant changes to their benefits, and short-term health plans, which are those the provide coverage for less than one year.
Check your health plan's summary of benefits to see if you can get free preventive care services. If you are not sure, call your insurance company. If you are enrolled in a health plan through work, ask your employer's human resources department.
Why It's Worth It to Get These Services
Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary artery disease, which is also called coronary heart disease. This condition happens when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque. It can cause a heart attack, severe chest pain, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat.
In the U.S., coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than 400,000 Americans die from the disease each year.
Taking the steps to be checked and working to make lifestyle changes can help keep you from getting heart disease.