Follow the roadmap to healthy destination

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If you want to reach a destination, you need to know how to get there. Here is a roadmap to the destination of improved health.

Begin with the decision to make improving your health a priority. You won’t stay on the right road if you aren’t determined to reach your goal.

If you don’t have health insurance, enroll in a plan. Once you have insurance, read the owner’s manual, which means learn what your insurance covers. (Cruise control is nice on a long trip, but if you don’t realize you have it, you can’t use it.)

If you aren’t eligible for insurance through your employer, you may want to apply for Medicaid or the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Once you’re on the route to improved health, connect with the right professionals. Using your health insurance as a guide, figure out where to go when you’re sick. The difference between going to your primary care clinic and going to the emergency room could be a large out-of-pocket payment.

Next stop: regular check-ups with your primary care clinic. Just as you maintain your vehicle, you can prevent health problems by seeing your doctor for well exams.

Be sure to ask questions. It’s okay to ask your doctor to repeat what she’s said or to say it a different way that you can understand. Ask for written materials you can take home or whether there’s a website about your condition.

Finally, after your clinic visit, follow the recommendations of your health care team. Several weeks after your appointment, if you find you’re not following the doctor’s advice, try to figure out what’s keeping you from making the change.

Is it because you forgot? You didn’t understand what you’re supposed to do? It’s too expensive?

For help in successfully following your roadmap to health, anyone who lives in Dallas County is welcome to contact the Health Navigation program at Dallas County Health for one-on-one help in reaching your goal. Call 515-993-3750 or email phn@dallascountyiowa.gov.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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