Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:42 pm
We know a lot of numbers from our daily lives. House numbers. Mileage on our cars. Social Security numbers. Phone numbers. We can easily rattle these off whenever asked.
But can you recall your health numbers? Sadly, I don’t think so. Few of us know our blood pressure (BP), cholesterol (LDL/HDL), body mass (BMI) and prostate readings (PSA), even though they threaten our personal well-being.
As more businesses implement consumer-directed health plans that put greater responsibility on individual employees to become better consumers of health care, knowing your health numbers and knowing how to use that information will become more imperative.
Part of doing good business now means making sure employees are able access information that makes them better consumers of health care services as well as helping them become more aware their own health. These types of practices can play a significant role in controlling health care costs.
Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that the majority of Americans do not know their own numbers until a significant health issue arises. We can avoid many serious health problems if we only watch our health numbers.
It is these numbers – not phone numbers or mileage – that really matter in the big scheme of things. We can control many of the "life-and-death digits" in our lives by doing things as simple as eating better, exercising more and getting regular medical checkups. In my view, each of us must take primary responsibility for our own well-being and staying on top of our numbers.
Your quality of life is dependent on avoiding serious health problems such as heart disease or diabetes. When was your last physical exam? Hearing test? Colonoscopy? Mammogram? Prostate screening? Are your immunizations up to date?
Should you be concerned about that persistent abdominal pain or that spot on your skin? Are you aware of any aspects of your family medical history that may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, kidney disease or other illnesses?
Are unhealthy foods a staple of your diet? Do you get enough exercise? Should you lose weight?
Finally, are your BP, LDL and other numbers within acceptable levels – even if unleaded gas is higher than you’d like?
These are the kinds of questions that everyone should be asking. Employers should be making a special effort to have their own employees ask these questions and understand the value of being proactive in maintaining their health.
Please make a healthy lifestyle choice – know your numbers.
And when you know your numbers, then start looking for other good lifestyle options to add to your healthy mix – local charity running or walking events, healthy meal choices or just working outside in the garden. Every little bit helps.
Jay Fulkerson is the chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare of Wisconsin.