Promote Prevention and Wellness across the Lifespan
HHS is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from clean air and water, safe outdoor spaces for physical activity, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments, and healthy homes. Prevention and wellness are essential components to good health and a high quality of life for Americans young and old.
Improve the Accessibility and Affordability of Prevention and Wellness Services
The Affordable Care Act requires most health plans to cover certain recommended preventive services and to eliminate cost-sharing for those services to help make wellness and prevention services affordable and accessible. The Affordable Care Act also helps make it easier and more affordable for individuals enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid to access preventive screenings and services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, smoking cessation counseling, mental health services, and routine vaccinations for children and adults. Strategic plans such as the U.S. National Vaccine Plan ensure a continued focus on key public health strategies.
Use Evidence-based Policies and Programs to Promote Prevention and Wellness
HHS is advancing the use of evidence-based policy and program interventions to address the leading causes of death and disability in the United States including heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, serious mental illness, unintentional injuries, and preventable behaviors such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use and other substance abuse that contribute to those causes. The Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund is designed to improve the ability to prevent disease by detecting it early, helping to manage it, and by providing states and communities with the resources they need to promote healthy living.
Initiatives such as the Million Hearts® Initiative and the National Diabetes Prevention Program demonstrate how partnerships between the public and private sector can extend the reach of these efforts. Investments in effective education campaigns, such as Tips from Former Smokers, are critical for saving lives and reducing health care costs. HHS research and technical collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are leading to the reduction of sodium and trans fats in the food supply. Inclusive health promotion programs such as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition’s I Can Do It, You Can Do It! program creates opportunities for children and adults across the disability spectrum to lead healthy lifestyles, which include regular physical activity and good nutrition. Targeted testing of people at risk and timely referral to medical care for people found to be infected with hepatitis C are effective strategies in preventing disease and death and reducing health care costs associated with those infections. HHS also works with hospitals to adopt standards and practices that support breastfeeding initiation and duration, to help promote optimal infant nutrition and lower childhood obesity.
Implement the National Prevention Strategy
The National Prevention Strategy presents a vision, goals, action items, and recommendations that individuals and public, private, and nonprofit organizations can take to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. HHS, in coordination with the National Prevention Council and a broad range of stakeholders, is implementing key goals of the strategy, which include building healthy and safe community environments, expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings, empowering people to make healthy choices, and eliminating health disparities. The seven priorities are tobacco-free living, preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use, healthy eating, active living, injury and violence-free living, reproductive and sexual health, and mental and emotional well-being. The National Prevention Council Action Plan builds from the strategy, and identifies National Prevention Council commitments and unique actions being taken by federal departments, including HHS. Within their respective departments and agencies, the twenty departments and agencies that comprise the National Prevention Council are partnering for a strategic focus on increasing tobacco-free environments, increasing access to affordable, healthy food, and identifying opportunities to consider prevention and health through collaborative, cross-sector efforts and areas where they may not typically be considered (e.g., workforce development, transportation planning).