Every year, millions of Americans brush off the consideration of going to the doctor and instead opt for the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach. By choosing to skip routine exams, many individuals stack up higher health care bills later and face sometimes life-threatening illnesses lurking silently within. Even if you feel fine, have no complaints, and no concerns, preventative maintenance is just as important to the human body as a routine oil change is for your car. The adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is not just a phrase.

The Three C’s of Preventative Care1. Caring for Children and Adults

Preventative care includes maintaining proper health, preventing disease through immunizations, vaccines, check-ups, and routine physicals. Each step of preventative maintenance is essential to both children and adults. Most parents never miss a visit to the pediatrician and are diligent in ensuring their children have all the necessary immunizations and vaccinations necessary. However, most adults do not use the same care for themselves.

2. Catching Disease Early

Rather than waiting for tragedy to strike and be forced to fight a deadly disease, preventative maintenance helps to catch disease in its earliest stages. When caught early, many diseases can be relatively easy and inexpensive to treat. What may be life threatening can be easily handled with a prescription if caught early. However, when left unattended, diseases and problems can progress inside the body to a point where healing is difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible. When it comes to treating potentially serious conditions, early diagnosis is key. Generally, the earlier you begin treatment for a condition, the greater your chance for a full recovery.

Healthy adults in the best shape of their lives can still carry serious conditions without any signs or symptoms. X-rays, blood tests and other routine screenings are the only ways to detect the early warning signs. New screening technology can prevent problems before they even occur. For example, a new type of MRI can diagnose heart disease up to 10 years before the patient is at risk for a heart attack. For conditions with a strong family history, such as heart disease or colon cancer, the importance of early screenings is crucial to stay healthy.

3. Cost

For the millions if underinsured or uninsured Americans, routine medical care can be expensive. According to the U.S. Census, 47 million Americans--nearly one sixth of the population--were not covered with a health insurance policy in 2006. For this segment of the population, they have no choice but to wait until they show symptoms and visit a doctor because preventive care services are simply too expensive. However, preventable causes of death are estimated to be responsible for nearly 40% of mortality cases in the U.S.

This means that those who go without insurance are less healthy, and more likely to die from preventable causes than those with health insurance. Having insurance helps individuals to live longer because they are able to be active participants in their health, not just reactive to symptoms.

The importance of preventative care is advocated by both professionals and politicians across the globe. Preventative care is a crucial step to keeping healthcare costs low, and mortality rates high. Don’t gamble with your healthy by avoiding the necessary routine check-ups, exams, and preventative screenings. Taking care of these items early will save you time, money, and ensure you’ll be around for years to come.