Men: Take control of your health - present and future

Men: Take control of your health - present and future
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Men don't always have a great track record for taking care of our own health.

On average, we live sicker and die younger than women. We are less likely to talk to a health care provider about how to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. These often preventable or manageable diseases take a particular toll on men in minority communities.

That is why National Men's Health Week, beginning June 9 and lasting through Father's Day on June 15, is a good time for us to start doing what's needed to get and stay healthy. That includes eating right, taking the time to exercise, and getting preventive services, such as screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, and depression, or getting a flu shot.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, accessing those services is easier now than ever before. That's because insurers are now required to cover certain preventive services at no additional charge. And by signing up for the affordable, quality health coverage offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, more than 8 million Americans took a crucial step to invest in their health and their families' security and peace of mind.

This includes fathers like Kyle Evans, a 43-year-old IT consultant from San Antonio, who works out, watches what he eats, and tries to stay healthy for his two young children. He's making plans to see his doctor and get his cholesterol checked. "I'm taking care of my health. It's something that's important to me and my family."

It also includes young men, like Justin Gray, a 28-year-old bartender from Tampa, who said: "As healthy as I feel, I'm a realist and I'm aware of the fact that 28 isn't too young to have a heart attack or a stroke or high blood pressure or even something far less severe."

And remember, it's never too late to get healthy. Make sure your fathers and grandfathers on Medicare also know they are eligible for many preventive services, including a yearly wellness visit, with no co-pays or deductibles.

If you need affordable, quality health insurance, the next open enrollment period starts in November. But you may be able to sign up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace before then under special circumstances, such as getting married or losing job-based insurance. Or you or members of your family might also qualify for coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), where enrollment is year-round.

Join us at HHS in supporting the Men's Health Network's Wear Blue campaign to raise awareness of men's health issues. Wear a blue shirt, cap, ribbon, or something else blue on June 10, HHS Wear Blue Day. We also encourage you to show us that you're wearing blue on social media, using #ShowUsYourBlue.

For Father's Day this year, let's give the men - and women and children - in our lives the priceless gift of health, security, and peace of mind.

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