When it comes to the health of our cats and dogs, the vast majority of Americans are doing the right things.
A study from Cigna’s preventive care research team found that 85% of people in this country know when it's time to get their pets vaccinated.1 Yet, just 20% of those pet-aware Americans know their own key biometric numbers1 and 45% don’t know that they should have an annual check-up.1
"I think we’re really good at putting other people first, like our pets, and we always put ourselves last," Dr. Isaac Martinez, a Cigna spokesman, told the Hallmark Channel's Home & Family "You can't do that with healthcare."
Cigna set out to change those statistics by launching the Cigna Health Improvement Tour, a mobile clinic equipped with health coaches to help people understand their biometric measurements and plan follow-up steps. Since October 2016, the vans have traveled the country and conducted more than 20,000 screenings. The Health Improvement Tour has visited almost 100 communities this year alone.
To help provide access to care for those in need and extend the reach of the tour, the Cordani Family Foundation – founded by Cigna CEO and President David M. Cordani – donates funds to pay for the costs associated with bringing the screenings to underserved communities. The mobile approach removes many of the barriers people note when it comes to taking care of their own health.
"The problem is that people are afraid of going to the doctor, or afraid of what the doctor will tell them, or they don’t have time," Martinez told Good Morning America 'This is why Cigna created the Health Improvement Tour, so that we come to your community to provide these screenings."
The screenings are for four key health numbers: blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index. Knowing those four numbers helps to identify risks for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The mobile clinics are staffed with health coaches that explain what those four health numbers mean, and what a patient should do to follow up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 100,000 lives could be saved if everyone got the recommended preventive care they need,2 which often starts with seeing a doctor for an annual check-up. Martinez also noted that not spending a lot of money on chronic diseases leads to significant cost savings.
The importance of preventive care cannot be overstated. Even if you're a person who appears healthy, eats right and exercises, a preventive care check-up is still imperative.
"You don't always see the things that are going on in your body, and you may not feel the problems or the effects until they're very late in the game," Martinez said. "The quicker you can get these problems addressed up front, you can actually prevent them or stop them, and your chances for cure or treatment are much, much better."
1 Nearly Half of Insured U.S. Adults Don’t Know They Should Have an Annual Checkup, Cigna, December 2015, Nearly Half Of Insured U.S. Adults Don't Know They Should Have An Annual Check-Up
2 CDC Prevention Checklist , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 2017, CDC - Office of the Associate Director for Policy - Prevention