FALLS CHURCH, Va. —If you are a man, it is a good time to evaluate your overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), life expectancy for men in the US is almost six years less than that for women. And that gap is getting wider. However, men can live long and healthy lives by eating right, exercising and getting preventative health care.
“Preventive health care is not just for older men,” said Jeannine Pickrell, RN, nurse consultant for Disease Management & Population Health at the Defense Health Agency. “Men of all ages can be helped to detect health problems early, before they become life-threatening.”
Many preventive services are available when you visit your provider for other routine care. Annual Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP&DP) exams are also available for any TRICARE enrollees over age 6. This allows you to receive multiple preventive services during one visit. You won’t pay any out-of-pocket costs to get preventive care when you follow your plan’s rules, as outlined in the TRICARE Costs and Fees Information Sheet. If you are 65 or older and have TRICARE For Life, follow Medicare’s rules for getting preventive care.
Which preventive services are right for you? That depends on a number of factors, including your:
- Family history
- Overall life expectancy
These and other risk factors determine which services are medically necessary for you and are covered by TRICARE.
Below you will find a list of recommended preventive care services for men. Keep them in mind the next time you talk to your health care provider.
Colorectal cancer is more common in men than in women. If you are age 45 or older and have an average risk of colon cancer, TRICARE covers some types of colorectal cancer screenings. Some risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- History of inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol, and tobacco use
Talk to your provider if you think you may be at increased or high risk.
TRICARE covers annual prostate cancer exams for men age 50 or older who have a life expectancy of at least 10 years. However, you may be eligible for prostate cancer screenings starting at age 40 or age 45 if you have certain risk factors. Talk to your provider if you have a family history of prostate cancer; you may be eligible for an early test. African American men are eligible for prostate exams at age 45 regardless of family history.
Not all cancer screenings are for older men. According to the CDC, testicular cancer is most common in men between 20 and 39 years of age. TRICARE covers testicular cancer exams every year for men ages 13 to 39 who have a history of cryptorchidism, orchiopexy, or testicular atrophy.
Men use tobacco products more often than women. They also have higher rates of developing and dying from lung cancer than women. TRICARE covers lung cancer screening if:
- They are 50 to 80 years old
- Have a 20 pack per year or more smoking history
- Currently smoke or have quit smoking in the last 15 years
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the US As the CDC noted, half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. It is important to get preventive checks even if you do not show any symptoms.
Cardiovascular disease screening is a covered benefit. This includes cholesterol and blood pressure checks.
Of course, there is more to preventive health than checkups and screenings. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a daily chore. Talk to your provider about things like healthy eating, getting more exercise, mental health, and more. And be sure to check out Men’s Health (https://tricare.mil/HealthWellness/HealthyLiving/Mens-Health) for more tips on staying healthy throughout the year.