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Many Connecticut Residents Not Using Free Preventive Health Care

Preventive care saves lives by detecting chronic diseases early. Credit: Bill Branson/Wikimedia Commons.
Preventive care saves lives by detecting chronic diseases early. Credit: Bill Branson/Wikimedia Commons.
October 8, 2015

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Almost half of Connecticut residents surveyed are not using the free preventive health care available under the Affordable Care Act.

The survey, conducted by the Connecticut Health I Team, found that almost 90 percent of those responding have a primary care physician – but Lisa Chedekel, senior writer and co-founder of the organization, says most of those who haven't had the screenings weren't aware they are free.

"Folks are saying that cost is a reason why they are not seeking out preventive care," she says. "They're still afraid that if screenings are offered it's going to mean a deductible for them."

Fifteen health services, including screening for depression, diabetes testing and weight counseling, are free for all adults. Another 22 services, including mammograms and Pap tests, are available to women.

Health care providers say another part of the problem is many people only go to the doctor when they're sick. Chedekel says both providers and patients need to make sure preventive care is part of their interaction.

"It's on providers to make sure that patients understand that these preventive-care services are available for free," she says. "It's also on patients to stay an extra 10 minutes to talk about those other issues."

The survey also found that African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely to get free preventive health screenings.

This week the Connecticut Health I Team and ConnectiCare hosted a free forum in Hartford on the benefits of preventive care. Chedekel says it's important to get the word out that the care is available.

"We hope that the event is the first of a series of education campaigns making more people aware of the availability of free preventive care," she says.

More than 95 percent of Connecticut residents now have health insurance. Preventive care can identify chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer early when they're easier to treat.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT