The Importance of Preventive Health Care

For many decades, health care in the United States and elsewhere focused on treating patients afflicted by certain diseases. This started to change in 1984 when the US Preventive Services Task Force was formed to provide health professionals with advice about prevention.

Preventive healthcare refers to measures taken to prevent diseases instead of treating them. It’s premised on the findings from various studies that many of the major causes of death or disability in the United States can be prevented. Preventive care can help you stay healthier for the rest of your life, and avoid the pain and costly treatments that often come with chronic and acute diseases in advanced stages.

Preventive health care is two-fold – primary prevention and secondary prevention

Primary prevention

Primary prevention refers to preventing or arresting chronic and acute diseases in their earliest stages through immunizations and a healthy lifestyle that includes:

  • A good diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and too much sugar and salt
  • Getting enough sleep

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention refers to detecting and treating a disease while it is still asymptomatic or at its earliest stages, when the body is most receptive to treatment. For early detection, it’s crucial to get regular check-ups, counseling and screening for various diseases, including:

  • Tests for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes
  • Cancer screenings, including colonoscopies and mammograms
  • Well-baby and well-child check-ups
  • Counseling on healthy diets, weight loss, quitting smoking and reducing drinking

Affordable preventive healthcare

Despite its many known benefits, many Americans still ignore the call to get preventive healthcare, mainly because of the high costs involved in laboratory tests and screenings, as well as doctor visits. Even with insurance, the costs of copayments and deductibles have discouraged many from investing in preventive care.

The Affordable Care Act has made preventive care affordable by requiring certain insurance companies and Medicaid to make a number of services available without any cost to the consumer.

Included in these services are:

Preventive healthcare for adults:

  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Diabetes (Type 2) screening
  • Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
  • Immunization vaccines
  • Lung cancer screening
  • Tobacco use screening

Preventive healthcare for women:

  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling
  • Contraception
  • Expanded tobacco intervention and counseling
  • Urinary tract or other infection screening
  • Breast cancer generic test counseling and mammography screenings
  • Osteoporosis screenings
  • Well-woman visits for women over 65

Preventive healthcare for children:

  • Alcohol and drug use assessments for adolescents
  • Autism screening
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Hearing screening
  • Vision screening
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Immunization vaccines

See the full list of free services for adults and children and how you can obtain them at

Preventive healthcare at Hurtt Family Health Clinic

Those without insurance can receive affordable preventive healthcare from a community health center or low cost health clinic. In Orange County, Hurtt Family Health Clinic provides the homeless and low-income families with preventive care services, including:

  • Immunizations
  • Physical exams
  • Breast and cervical cancer screenings
  • Laboratory exams (except drug testing)

Hurtt Family Health Clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center that receives funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services. As the center of Orange County Rescue Mission’s medical program, we also receive donations and volunteer services from the community.

To find out how we can help you obtain preventive healthcare, get in touch with us at our Contact Us page, or call our main line at (714) 247-0300.