Why men should prioritize preventive health care

June 2024 | Population Health

While there have been more recent efforts from employers, health insurers and tech companies to better support women’s health needs, it should not go unnoticed that men may need support in their health journeys as well. According to a Cleveland Clinic study, 44% of men do not get a yearly physical and half of the men surveyed have not been screened for common cancers. Men of color are even less likely to see a doctor regularly.

Reluctant to seek care

Many men avoid regularly visiting the doctor for various reasons. Some are confident they’re already healthy, while others have a fear of receiving bad news or are embarrassed to admit they have a health concern. Societal pressures may also be to blame, as a survey showed that 41% of men were told as children that men don’t complain about health issues. Not to mention some of the racial and socioeconomic disparities that create barriers for those trying to access care. Any of these reasons that have caused men to skip visits to the doctors can impact overall health.

Importance of preventive care

Despite many men avoiding preventive care, it is well-documented how important preventive care is to a person’s health. Through routine screenings, chronic conditions and diseases can be caught early when they are typically easier and less expensive to treat. The same can be said for preventive oral and eye health care, as keeping up with cleanings and eye exams can help prevent health issues throughout the whole body.

Mental health and whole health

Mental health is another area of care that men often avoid due to stigmas or overlook altogether, yet is important to prioritize for whole health. Staying consistent with mental health screenings can help people get support before a condition like depression becomes unmanageable. It can also affect physical health too, as those with certain mental health conditions are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, get inadequate sleep or be less motivated to exercise.

And as a health plan, we want to see all our members prioritize their health and well-being. It’s why we offer various programs and resources that make it easier to navigate health issues. For those seeking outpatient mental health treatment, like therapy, our behavioral health service navigators will speak with a member to understand what they’re looking for and get them set up with an appointment. They’ll then follow up post-appointment to see if that medical professional was the right fit for them. Then for members living with certain chronic conditions, our nurse care managers are here to provide personalized support to navigate a complex health care system.

Our viewpoint: Prioritizing men’s health

Dr. Raj Hazarika, MD, SM and Point32Health vice president and chief medical officer for commercial products, highlights the need for preventive care. “Addressing health conditions that may be caught earlier when they aren’t causing symptoms yet – like hypertension or prediabetes – is important to do before they become severe.” And while getting a doctor’s appointment can be difficult due to workforce shortages, it shouldn’t be skipped.

“We know that scheduling an appointment with a PCP can present challenges, but making that appointment is still well worth it.” – Dr. Raj Hazarika

And in the meantime, Dr. Hazarika notes that staying physically active with the incorporation of resistance training has a lot of health benefits for everyone (not just men), especially as we age.