Voices of Alaska: Help offered for a healthier 2017

  • By Susan Johnson
  • Tuesday, December 27, 2016 7:31pm
  • Opinion

Many of us see the New Year as an opportunity for a new beginning—a chance to make positive changes in our lives. We might want to break bad habits or make changes to become more healthy, like exercising, healthy eating, or meditating.

New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep. Breaking old habits and establishing new ones is challenging. Our lives pull us in many directions at once, and it’s hard to find the time, energy, and knowledgeable help to work on personal improvements. However, making positive life changes is much easier with the right assistance.

Take advantage of the essential health benefits, including preventive health services, that are offered for most health plans purchased through HealthCare.gov to achieve your goals for a healthier lifestyle. Preventive health services may be available with no copays, coinsurance, or deductibles on your marketplace plan.

Smoking and other tobacco use have repeatedly been shown to contribute to a variety of diseases. Cessation interventions for tobacco users are among the preventive health services, as are alcohol misuse screening and counseling, obesity screening and counseling, and diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease. Immunizations, which can help us live longer and healthier lives, are also included. Screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, and several other diseases and forms of cancer are also included in these preventive services, as is depression screening.

All this help, and more, is available from HealthCare.gov plans, but first you need to enroll.

Open Enrollment for 2017 health insurance coverage only runs through January 31, 2017. In Alaska, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to enroll. The Alaska Primary Care Association (APCA) or the United Way of Anchorage can assist you with enrollment. APCA’s enrollment assistance is available at Get Covered Alaska or by calling 1-844-PLANSAK (1-844-752-6725). United Way of Anchorage can provide assistance by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221.

Make 2017 the healthiest year ever for you and your family. Break that procrastination habit, and use your new health insurance to help make the positive changes you’ve been longing to make. You can do it with the right help! Get your friends and family involved in your new healthier lifestyle. Let’s all have a healthier and happy New Year!

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

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