More boys than girls are born every year in the U.S. But any lead in health men start with, vanishes with the first dirty diaper. From infancy to old age, women are simply healthier than men. These are the top health threats men face according to medical insurance claims.
Out of the 15 leading causes of death, U.S. men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer’s disease, which many men don’t live long enough to develop. Although the gender gap is closing, men still die five years earlier than their wives, on average. While the reasons are partly biological, men’s approach to their health plays a role too, experts say. “Men put their health last,” says Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, editor in chief of the American Journal of Men’s Health. “Most men’s thinking is, if they can live up to their roles in society, then they’re healthy.”
Men go the doctor less than women, and are more likely to have a serious condition when they do go, research shows. “As long as they’re working and feeling productive, most men aren’t considering the risks to their health,” says Porche.
But even if you’re feeling healthy, a little planning can help you stay that way. The top threats to men’s health aren’t secrets: they’re known, common, and often preventable. Experts were consulted to bring you this list of the top health threats to men, and how to avoid them.
Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men’s Health Threat They call it atherosclerosis, meaning “hardening of the arteries.” But it could as easily be from the Latin for “a man’s worst enemy.”
“Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death worldwide, in both men and women,” says Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the division for heart disease and stroke prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s a huge global public health problem, and in the U.S. we have some of the highest rates.”
In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms, blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.
One in five men and women will die from cardiovascular disease, according to Labarthe. For unclear reasons, though, men’s arteries develop atherosclerosis earlier than women’s. “Men’s average age for death from cardiovascular disease is under 65,” he says; women catch up about six years later.
Even in adolescence, girls’ arteries look healthier than boys’. Experts believe women’s naturally higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) are partly responsible. Men have to work harder to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke:
- Get your cholesterol checked, beginning at age 25 and every five years.
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they’re high.
- If you smoke, stop.
- Increase your physical activity level to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.
“There’s a saying that ‘children should know their grandparents,’” says Labarthe. “This is fatal or disabling condition that causes lost family time and working time. But a large number of these events are preventable.”
Lung Cancer: Still a Health Threat to Men Lung cancer is a terrible disease: ugly, aggressive, and almost always metastatic. Lung cancer spreads early, usually before it grows large enough to cause symptoms or even show up on an X-ray. By the time it’s found, lung cancer is often advanced and difficult to cure. Less than half of men are alive a year later. So… are you still smoking ? Tobacco smoke causes 90% of all lung cancers. Thanks to falling smoking rates in the U.S., fewer men than ever are dying of lung cancer. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men: more than enough to fill the Superdome every year. No effective screening test for lung cancer is available, although a major study is going on to learn if CT scans of the chests of high-risk people can catch cancer early enough to improve survival. Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk for lung cancer. Few preventive measures are as effective — or as challenging — as stopping smoking. But new tools are available that work to help men quit. Your doctor can tell you more.
Prostate Cancer: A Leading Cancer for Men Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer . Close to 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year in the U.S. But while one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, only one in 35 will die from it. “Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and unlikely to spread, while others are aggressive,” says Djenaba Joseph, MD, medical officer for cancer prevention at the CDC. “The problem is, we don’t have effective tests for identifying which cancers are more dangerous.” Screening for prostate cancer requires a digital rectal exam (the infamous gloved finger) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA). But in fact, “Screening has never definitively been shown to reduce the chances of dying from prostate cancer,” according to Joseph. That’s because screening finds many cancers that would never be fatal, even if undetected. Testing then leads to aggressive treatment of relatively harmless cancers, which causes problems like incontinence. Should you get screened for prostate cancer? Some experts say yes, but “the best solution is to see your doctor regularly and talk about your overall risk,” says Joseph. “All men should understand the risks and benefits of each approach, whichever you choose.”
Depression and Suicide: Men Are at Risk Depression isn’t just a bad mood, a rough patch, or the blues. It’s an emotional disturbance that affects your whole body and overall health. In effect, depression proves the mind-body connection. Brain chemicals and stress hormones are out of balance. Sleep, appetite, and energy level are disturbed. Research even suggests men with depression are more likely to develop heart disease. Experts previously thought depression affected far more women than men. But that may just be men’s tendency to hide depressed feelings, or express them in ways different than women’s. “Instead of showing sadness or crying, men get angry or aggressive,” says Porche. “They feel it’s not OK for them to say, ‘I’m depressed,’ so they cope in other ways, like drinking too much.” Men are also less likely to seek help for depression. The results can be tragic. Women attempt suicide more often, but men are more successful at completing it. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men; for young men it’s higher. Most men and women respond well to depression treatment with medications , therapy, or both. If you think you might be depressed, reach out to your doctor or someone close to you, and seek help.
Diabetes: The Silent Health Threat for Men Diabetes usually begins silently, without symptoms. Over years, blood sugar levels creep higher, eventually spilling into the urine. The resulting frequent urination and thirst are what finally bring many men to the doctor. The high sugar of diabetes is anything but sweet. Excess glucose acts like a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves everywhere in the body. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations are the fallout for thousands of men. Boys born in 2000 have an alarming one-in-three chance of developing diabetes in their lifetimes. Overweight and obesity are likely feeding the diabetes epidemic. “The combination of diabetes and obesity may be erasing some of the reductions in heart disease risk we’ve had over the last few decades,” warns Labarthe. Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, can prevent type 2 diabetes . Moderate weight loss — for those who are overweight — and 30 minutes a day of physical activity reduced the chance of diabetes by more than 50% in men at high risk in one major study.
ED: A Common Health Problem in Men Erectile dysfunction may not be life threatening, but it’s still signals an important health problem. Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39% of 40-year-old men have problems with erectile dysfunction. Men with ED report less enjoyment in life and are more likely to be depressed. Erectile dysfunction is most often caused by atherosclerosis — the same process that causes heart attacks and strokes. In fact, having ED frequently means that blood vessels throughout the body are in less-than-perfect health. Doctors consider erectile dysfunction an early warning sign for cardiovascular disease. You’ve probably heard more about the numerous effective treatments for ED than you ever cared to just by watching the evening news. Treatments make a fulfilling love life possible despite ED, but they don’t cure the condition. If you have erectile dysfunction, see your doctor, and ask if more than your love life is at risk.
With nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, it is obvious the United States has a significant problem to face, namely the lack of affordable medical insurance coverage. Medical costs continue to rise faster than incomes, creating a domino effect of financial struggles for Americans needing medical care.
Although it may seem like the issue of affordable medical insurance is a lost cause, it is still possible to find the right plan to suit your needs, keep you covered and fit your budget. The through-the-roof cost of health care today means that an unexpected illness or injury could result in significant financial hardship or even bankruptcy for someone who does not have health insurance coverage.
If you are not covered by an employer group health plan, seeking out individual medical coverage is a necessity. Furthermore, if you are between jobs make sure you are covered by COBRA continuation health coverage or a COBRA alternative.
What is the best way to conduct a medical insurance plans comparison to identify the coverage to meet both your medical and financial situation? Consider your lifestyle, potential medical usage, income and expenditures to first identify your personal needs. Below are some tips to help you make the right choice when it comes to affordable health coverage:
· Know your budget—In our tough economy, the family budget seems to be getting tighter and tighter and it may seem like there is not enough room for even one more cost; however, it will pay dividends in the long run if you can cut back in all other areas to make sure you have enough money for quality medical coverage.
· Know what kind of medical insurance coverage you want—Once you have the dollar number you can spend on premiums, your goal is to determine the type of medical insurance plan you need and prefer. You can choose from HMO policies, where you have a primary doctor who has to approve your entire medical, or PPO policies through which you can choose from a larger variety of providers with fewer restrictions on doctor choice and care.
· If you have a doctor you love, make certain he/she is on the medical plan—Wanting a certain doctor or hospital can help you to quickly narrow down the right individual medical coverage policy.
· Determine the types of services you need your medical insurance plan to cover—Do you know if you will need maternity coverage? Or what about yearly check-ups and immunizations for children? Look ahead the next year and try to identify what medical services you will need, so that you do not end up with medical insurance coverage that does not cover the services.
· Carefully conduct the medical insurance plans comparison—Take an in-depth analysis of the medical insurance plans you are considering, and you will be able to narrow your options down to the affordable health coverage that meets the majority of your medical needs while fitting into your budget.
Taking a proactive approach to your health coverage insurance needs will help you to care for yourself and your family as well as avoid unnecessary financial burden in the future. Finding affordable health coverage is possible and can give you security and peace of mind, even during uncertain economic times.
If you are looking for affordable medical insurance plans, a little knowledge can save you a great deal of money. There are things that you can do which will put you in a better position to get the best healthcare rates possible. By making some changes, you will qualify for lower premiums on your medical insurance policy.
Your road map to affordable medical insurance:
· Affordable medical insurance rates by quitting smoking. This will have a very big impact on your premiums, and is probably the single most important step you can take to lower your medical insurance cost and improve your health. Most insurance companies will require that you be tobacco products free for 12 months before they give you the non-tobacco rates. Get started today!
· Affordable medical insurance rates through exercise. It’s no big secret; the benefits of regular exercise are enormous. Regular exercise will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol readings and greatly improve your mental health. It will make you a happier person especially when you see your rates for medical insurance drop! Walking is a great form of exercise. Walking will help you with your fitness, your health and your general wellness. How much and how often should you go walking? It is advised that most people should be doing physical activity at least 5 times per week for around half an hour each time.
· Affordable medical insurance rates through diet. By having a healthy diet, the person will look fit and he himself will feel good. You will spend less on doctor visits and prescriptions. It reduces all the fats in the body and also works for a healthier and glowing skin. The injurious effects and the dangers of high cholesterol level and fats are no longer a secret. Everyone is aware of the harms of increasing fats in their bodies. Hence due care must be taken in choosing your diet. A balanced diet also works against any kind of diseases present in the body. A proper nutritious diet will furnish you with the calories and the nutrition necessary for your body. These in turn would strengthen the immune system of the body giving you protection and shield from many diseases like infections.
· Affordable medical insurance by getting out. When you quit smoking, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, you will experience a huge boost in your energy level. The benefits of getting out and enjoying yourself are the rewards that will keep you on track for the long term.
· Affordable medical insurance coverage through comparisons. Getting quotes from at least five different insurance companies will ensure that you are shopping for the best rate possible. By comparing the rates of various insurers you will be in a better position to find the lowest rates. Also understanding insurance terminology puts you in a better position to know a good deal when you find it.
The most important thing most employers want to be able to offer to their employees is an employee benefit plan. Through these plans the employer can rest assured that his employees are well taken care. It also helps retain current employees since they are more likely to stay to keep the great benefits. Many people will take a lower paying job if the medical insurance plan is worth the lower pay.
Having affordable health coverage is one of the first things people ask about when they start a new job and for many, it can be the reason they accept a position with one company over another. Being able to offer comprehensive, and inexpensive, health care for your employees is a must have in the current economic situation.
Options Are The Key
For an employer group health plan to be truly effective and offer the most flexibility and option to your employees, having a number of plans to choose from is wise. Many health organizations will offer different types of medical insurance plans to fit the budget as well as the medical needs of a person or family. They are broken down into three normal categories:
Part-Time or Hourly Employees
This type of plan is created to offer general and limited coverage options for essential services. They may also offer discounts on certain products or procedures. This type of medical insurance is good for non-salaried employees as they generally take less money out of each paycheck while still offering substantial services.
Full Time Employees
This plan is the more traditional or value focused plan for permanent employees who may or may not be on a salaried basis. They offer affordable, more comprehensive plans, which can be specially tailored to the employer’s desires. The benefits packages can be customized as well and flexible spending accounts are offered to help offset unexpected and costly medical procedures.
Low Cost – High Deductible Plans
This plan is designed for employees who are more engaged in their health care needs. They normally feature a lower cost per month with a higher deductible. Normally people who don’t go to the doctor often aside from normal check-ups prefer this type of plan. In this program, health care savings accounts are normally offered as a way to put money away in case an expensive procedure is needed.
There are also other options for employer group health plans, which may include any of the following and normally these options are added at additional expense to the employee:
* Prescriptions – Including pharmacy costs.
* Mental Health – Dealing with psychiatrists and other mental health institutions.
* Dental – This includes normal checks ups to dental surgery. They normally don’t cover much for cosmetic options.
* Vision – Normal checkups, discounts on glasses and contact lenses.
* Alternative Health Care – Such as chiropractic treatments.
Employers normally help offset the cost of health care by contributing a percentage of the cost for each employee so, finding an employer group health plan that is affordable as well as comprehensive is important. Employer health plans can mean the difference between retaining valuable employees and losing them to someone with better benefits.
Facing severely decreased household income after a job loss, unemployed workers risk further financial distress by dropping their health insurance. Health insurance experts warn against making this budget cut, explaining that good medical insurance protects a family, especially if major illness or injury occurs. Struggling families can find affordable health coverage that offer excellent coverage.
Finding the best health insurance plans is a process. The initial step is to learn about the options that are out there for affordable medical plans. By taking the time to investigate how plans are different, by doing a health insurance comparison, consumers can learn which one best fits their needs. Sometimes by giving up certain control over healthcare choices, they can save money on premiums and overall healthcare costs. An HMO is a good example. There is typically a restriction on which doctors and facilities the insured can use, but the deductibles and co-pays on this type of policy are much lower than other policies like PPOs. This means that often-healthcare costs are lower overall in the long run – especially for families that make frequent visits to the doctor.
For many people, a more basic medical insurance plan is sufficient. In many cases, a comprehensive insurance plan represents spending more money for little true added benefit. Experts also recommend cutting dental and vision coverage if they are not absolutely necessary. Raising the deductible can be a sound move, providing the insured has a cash reserve. Higher coinsurance percentages will also mean taking on more of the risk, therefore premiums will be lower.
“Finding affordable family health insurance, even in a tight economy, can definitely be done. It does however; require shopping around and comparing quotes, as well as time researching policies prior to getting a quote and researching companies after the quote,” said Tom Carolan, Director of Client Services with BestHealthcareRates.com. “With knowledge and competitive quotes on your side, you can be sure of finding an affordable medical insurance policy that perfectly fits your needs.”