Voices of Alaska: Get a healthy start to the New Year

  • By Susan Johnson
  • Saturday, December 19, 2015 4:30pm
  • Opinion

Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Do a Google search, and you’ll find health related resolutions are among the most common: lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, stop smoking, drink less, watch less TV, reduce stress.

Unfortunately, most of us break our resolutions almost as soon as we make them. There is one resolution you can make and keep this year. Get a healthy start to the new year by signing up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov or your state’s marketplace.

Making, and keeping, that one resolution can actually help you keep other resolutions in 2016.

Want to lose weight? Obesity screening and counseling are free preventive health benefits offered through Qualified Health Plans. Want to stop smoking? Tobacco use screening and cessation interventions for tobacco users are also free preventive health benefits. Want to lower your chronic disease risk? Diet counseling is available for adults at higher risk of chronic disease. Alcohol misuse screening and counseling are also available as a preventive health benefits. The peace of mind that comes with having health coverage can reduce your stress.

While some resolutions are on you, HHS is offering assistance to attain many health related goals. From Coverage to Care (C2C) helps patients make better use of their health coverage. The materials are currently available in eight languages, with more to come.

The Healthy Self Initiative encourages everyone to take control of their own health. Knowledge is power. Knowing more about your personal, family, and ethnic/racial disease history and tendencies, can help you and your provider make smarter decisions about your health care. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, your provider might monitor you more closely. Your provider might also encourage you to take steps to lose weight, to exercise, and to eat a healthier diet. Likewise if you have a family history of prostate or breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, or many other diseases with a genetic component, your provider might encourage you to take steps to reduce your risk.

Other HHS websites such as health.gov, healthfinder.gov, womenshealth.gov, the Office of Minority Health site, and Let’s Move, offer resources and suggestions for living a healthier, more active life.

So, whatever other resolutions you might make for 2016, make and keep that resolution to sign up for health coverage for you and your family. It’s really easy — just visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s marketplace. However, time is limited. You MUST sign up by January 31, 2016, or you’ll lose your opportunity to sign up for 2016 coverage unless you have a Qualifying Life Event.

Make and keep your first resolution of the New Year. Sign up for Marketplace coverage today. You’ll get a jump on some of those other resolutions for the year and you’ll feel better for it!

Susan Johnson is Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region 10.

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