Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that is maintained with the sustained presence of normal body cells, tissues, organs, and emotions in an optimum state of health. Various definitions have been applied to health throughout the history of medical science. In modern times, however, health has often been seen as the sum of the totality of a person’s experience and interaction with society. It thus includes both physical and mental aspects.
The term “mental health” connotes a person’s mental health or functioning. Mental health is an essential aspect of general health care coverage. It is further defined as the ability to engage in complex decision making, management, communication, and interpersonal skills in response to stressors within the person’s environment. Mental health may be affected by genetic, physiological, emotional, developmental, environmental, interpersonal, cultural, and neurological factors. Mental health also includes treatment for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorders, neuropsychological conditions, and psychosis.
Health is a state of being healthy and its effects on the physical world are related to physiological processes. Health is a primary need that can be satisfied through the means of appropriate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Health affects an individual’s ability to work, a social role and a quality of life. People have the right to access affordable health care coverage. Affordable health care coverage often helps families afford quality health care services.
Health programs that focus on prevention of diseases and illnesses are more successful in reducing health care costs and increasing overall wellness. The challenge in providing health care coverage for the mentally healthy and the elderly is to balance preventative services with therapeutic services and referrals for specialty care. Primary prevention services include screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer screenings; immunizations;, and routine doctor visits. Specialist services include treating acute physical injuries, conditions such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and head injuries.
An improved primary care reduces health care costs because it makes use of preventative services, improves the experience of the patient, and provides timely treatments. For example, an increase in the use of the medical home will result in fewer patients requiring urgent care and discharge. Such an increase will reduce the ratio of emergency department visits. Emergency department visits account for about one-third of all hospital admissions. Other improvements in primary care would reduce the ratio of adults requiring hospitalization and the number of children admitted to a specialty care hospital.
There are many ways to improve the health of the general population. One way is through the implementation of community-based preventive services and primary care programs. An example of such a program is the Home Visitation Program (HVP), which enlists primary care physicians as partners with home health care agencies and other voluntary organizations. The increased investment in preventive services and primary care is expected to reduce the ratio of uninsured people in the United States by about half within five years. In addition, an increasing number of physicians are making their patients aware of the need for comprehensive annual health screening. Such awareness will lead to an increase in the utilization of such services.